Did you know that The New York Times is in the wine business? The Washington Post got into what was perceived to be the power broker business? Until of course someone shed some light on that “business” line. And CNBC is all about not upsetting business by making sure that their programming and prodigious prognosticators move markets ever upward either through sheer will, if not fast talk. Market is up, everyone is happier than a bee on caffeine. Yeah, in a downmarket, the talking heads look like they want to take their ball and go home. Bummer…These guys are the Big & Bad, these are icons of journalism.
So what does this all mean? For one thing, it confirms that content is king, I will explain the what and why later in this piece. Yes, The New York Times has to capitalize on its database to drive more dollars to the bottom line – so, let’s start a wine club! The Washington Post watched it’s circulation drop, so selling access to powerful Washingtonians seemed logical and highly accretive to the bottom line. It makes perfect sense…until it doesn’t.
Core business is critical in journalism – not earth shattering news I am sure. Let’s get serious for a minute about this and ask a critical question, What is the state of journalism as it relates to advertisers? The reason why I am using the word Journalism and not media or some other word is intentional. And while experts in suits are screaming at the demise of “traditional media” – meaning newspapers, television, radio – I submit that they are wrong, dead wrong. Why? Content IS king. The proof is Wikileaks. I mean, if these folks don’t wake up and find out that true, inspired, untarnished journalism sells, they will continue to find other ways of keeping their business relevant, like selling spirits and driving people to Twitter or asking people to pay for their “content.” The world of journalism, has actually become even more serious and competitive, but our Bigs are still asleep at the printing press or the remote control.
When the few who were calling the coming crash in between 2003-2008, the mainstream business media, including CNBC’s fell silent. No one wanted to ruin the party. You mean people would not have wanted to get another perspective from someone who doesn’t talk very fast and perhaps doesn’t wear a tie? Check out Jon Stewart’s – all too late I might add, but someone had to do it – undressing of Cramer on the subject…
Julian Assange and Wikileaks are hot topics these days. From my perspective, for the wrong reasons. Governments rail against Wikileaks as they try to cover information otherwise not easily attainable by the public. The public’s apparent appetite for the information on Wikileaks has been, and I suspect will continue to be insatiable. So when Wikileaks puts out an alert, The New York Times actually promotes the content on Wikileaks and distributes it on its website and in print. While this is part in parcel with the mission of Wikileaks, The New York Times should have identified a business opportunity, one that allows it to be the trusted source for relevant content. Advertisers want and need sticky content. Wouldn’t it be better if the Grey Lady played in the same game as Wikileaks? I am taking The Times at task here, but many fine newspapers and television stations across the United States and world suffer from the same crippling disease. Yes, people are interested in this stuff, highly interested. And if you report on what Wikileaks did, I would rather visit Wikileaks, the source. Our journalists should be the source.
By many, Assange is viewed as a modern day Robin Hood, by others as spoiler and traitor. The global media titans ought view him as an innovator and disrupter and quickly learn from him. Wikileaks is clearly a game changer, and has quickly become a global brand, and a trusted source to boot. Every time a whistle-blower chooses Wikileaks over “trusted” journalistic icons should make people who care deeply about these institutions mad as hell because he/she did not or could not use the traditional route to get the word out. Content lost! No, I am mistaken, not content lost! Judging by how many people hit Wikileaks’ servers, relevant content lost and therefore dollars lost!
Which begs another question: does anyone still care about the traditional route?
That’s a topic to chew on another time.