…You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. And sometimes it rains.
An OJR interview with Bob Cauthorn of the San Francisco Chronicle is easily our must-read of the week.
The money shot (links and emphasis mine):
You’re relevant. That’s right, you’re relevant. They’ll buy you next
week. See, this is the point to drive home … is that
every newspaper leader in America and every journalist in America
should be paying close attention … Because
there’s a message for everybody. There’s a very powerful moral for
everybody and it should be viewed as an opportunity to renew our
compact with our audience. A compact that we’ve walked away from over
And the message here – and it is a "It’s a
Wonderful Life" kind of moment – the message here is that our readers
are waiting for us to come back home.
We’re the ones who have strayed. It’s not the readers who are straying from us.
It’s us who have strayed from our readers…
…We gotta start firing editors. We have to at some
point or other face the fact that the circulation numbers are down
because nobody wants to read this [expletive] product. Make it the product
we want, and we’ll read it.
OJR: Make it be relevant.
Cauthorn: That’s right. This is not a complicated business.
I know– when you’re looking for a hammer, everything looks like one. But this Bubblegeneration piece makes me feel good about our hybrid of techno-driven recommendations with editor-selected pieces.
And for the record, while I found Pandora’s recommendation engine to be better-than-most, their interface rocks!
I got a lot of questions last week about the activities of a certain local media outlet in regards to its renewed focus on local and Neighborhood news. Most asked if these moves pre-empted what we’re doing. A few wags accused me of writing the copy for their promotional pieces. Neither is the case.
My resolution to keep my yap shut about such things (and my failure to do so) is well-documented.
However, when people ask me these questions, I’m going to start answering by pointing them to this call for high school writers.
- You must be a senior.
- You must fill out our application.
- You must fit our space constraints.
- You must get a letter of recommendation.
- We will only annoint five chosen ones.
Contrast that with our offer:
- Doesn’t matter who you are.
- Say what you want, just do it civilly.
- Write once. Write twice. Write a thousand times. Your call.
- Unlimited space, so come one come all. If you’re good, we’ll highlight your work for those interested in the topic. If not, you can still send the link to your Mom.
- Don’t like to write, but a whiz with a camera? That’s cool too.
- Your stuff will usually be published the day you submit it.
And I’ll even up the ante:
- Send us your rejection letter from the Great Annointer and we’ll give you one of every piece of Pegasus promotional swag we create for the next year and feature you as a columnist on our homepage for a week.
It’s another way of looking at relevance. News is rapidly becoming a commodity.
The Daily You is bespoke.
Like the rest of the world, I’m growing fatigued with the wave of comment and trackback spam. From here on out, all comments and trackbacks require validation.
Kathy Sierra’s stuff is always pure gold. See her comparison of old and new marketing. Well worth the clickthrough to read the whole thing…
As a side note, I keep up with a lot of media feedback programs to see what kind of information others are looking for. A friendly piece of advice: If you hawk free stuff as a major reason that readers should subscribe to your online survey program, a prize with a value of $1/hour doesn’t cut it. (67 surveys @ 5 minutes each to get a $5 coffee card.)
We, the undersigned, wish to demonstrate the pointless nature of forced
web site registration schemes and the dubious demographic data they
Although we will have required registration on our site, we’re not the least bit worried about BugMeNot. Because anyone who uses it to access our site will only be cheating themselves of the customized relevant content we’ll provide. And if a user doesn’t care about that, we won’t be able to credibly monetize their pageviews anyway.
No. Because there wouldn’t be any point to it.
Instead of tightening up registration walls, publishers should be figuring out how registration improves the user experience.
UPDATE: Chris "Long Tail" Anderson posits an argument that a certain amount of piracy actually benefits the seller:
The usual price-setting method is to look at the entire
potential market, from the many at the economic lower end to the few at
and set a price somewhere in between the top and bottom that will maximize total revenues.
But if you cede the bottom to piracy, you can set a price between the top and the middle. The result: higher revenues per copy, and potentially higher revenues overall…
…Add to this the familiar (if controversial) argument that piracy
helps seed technology markets, and can be a net benefit. Especially in
countries such as China and India, the ubiquity of pirated Windows and
Office have made them de-facto national standards…
…The lesson is to find a good-enough approach to content protection that is easy,
convenient and non-annoying to most people, and then accept that there
will be some leakage. Most consumers see the value in paying for
something of guaranteed quality and legality, as long as you don’t
treat them like potential criminals. And the minority of others, who
are willing to take the risks and go to the trouble of finding the
pirated versions? Well, they probably weren’t your best market anyway.