I think these two pieces can be summed up in one sentence:  The people have taken the decision power from the CEOs.  This isn’t news.  Consumers know exactly what they want, and whatever market fails to produce that specific product is out of  luck.  This theme spands across the board.  For example, people demanded a smart phone, and after Apple delivered the iPhone, Verizon was forced to come out with the Droid in order to compete.  Global warming began trending years ago, and therefore car companies were forced to come out with hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius.  The same rules apply to journalism, and both of these pieces, Mark Briggs’ “Journalism 2.0” and the Cluetrain Manefesto’s “95 theses,” stress that point.
.
As Briggs wrote, “Web publishers are creating platforms instead of content.”  At least that’s their goal.  In order for news sites to be successful, they now have to cater to their audiences and allow them to feel heard.  There are numerous ways of accomplishing those objectives.  One of the simplest methods is to ask the people what they want.  Allow readers to comment on stories, e-mail reporters or hold round table discussions with community members.  I think one of the best ways to get the audience involved is to let members produce content directly.  For example, the San Francisco Chronicle lets readers keep blogs on its site  on different topics like food and travel.  The author(s) of the theses also agree on this point.  Thesis No. 34 reads, ” To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.”
.
Briggs and the theses both stress the importance of two-way communication between those “in-charge” and their intended audiences.  Companies that think they know it all and that are not open to change are getting left in the dust by the new age of progressive consumers.  I think the theses did a good job of describing this phenomenom in theses numbers 14 and 19 which declare, “Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman … (and) Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance. Briggs gives a good comparison between GeoCities, which didn’t allow for much interaction, and MySpace which allows users to post photos,  music, comments and network with one another.  One company failed, the other is still thriving (though losing speed with the invention of Facebook…).
.
There is much to be learned from these two articles.  As a consumer, I hear these articles telling me to make my voice heard.  Companies do not know what to deliver unless they are told what is and isn’t working.  I must admit that while I do visit news sites quite regularly, I rarely offer any feedback (neglect to comment, e-mail etc).  Perhaps newspapers and magazines would better manage their sites if more people directly told them what they liked (interpreting number of clicks and page views can be misleading/and a waste of useful time).  As the beginning of thesis No. 89 reads, “We have real power and we know it…” I know I have power, but with that power comes the responsibility to contribute.
.
Producers of news should take away two very important points from these pieces.
.
  • Create platforms, not content.

Organizations need to come up with as many ways as possible for the public to voice their opinions, concerns and compliments.  As Briggs stated, “…sites such as You Tube created sophisticated warehouses of content—without creating any content at all.”  We all need to take our hats off to YouTube.  Its popularity speaks for itself.  It’s doing something right, and the rest of us need to take notes.

  • Thesis No. 21. “Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.”

I’m not arguing that companies need to start cracking jokes or start putting all fluffy stories on their news sites, but they do need to stop taking themselves so seriously.  As mentioned in my previous post, news organizations need to let go of the traditional stuffy newspaper format and experiment with new things online.  Try using big images on the top of the page, build whacky galleries or feature a funny video.  And most importantly, give the people what they want.

Advertisements