Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Basics of Media Old and New

CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield wrote an interesting op-ed piece "Media is Changing, But Some Things Endure." In it, he reflects on the 30-year run of "CBS Sunday Morning." While most of it centered around the program itself, at the heart of it was a concept that sometimes gets forgotten.
Whether on a TV screen or computer or cell phone or toaster, the fundamental things still apply (or should). A love of story-telling, a love of clear, vivid language, a respect for history - the world didn't start five years ago, even if YouTube did - these still matter most.
And if you look closely at the successful elements of new media, you'll find that to be true.

Who gets the most followers on Twitter? The people with the most interesting stories (told in 140-letter installments). Which new media video programs are the most successful? Those that engage and use visual story-telling effectively. Which podcasts continue to thrive? The ones with a set framework (either tightly constructed or loose) that provide purpose and flow to the content. Which blogs are the most useful? The ones that are easy to read (because the spelling and grammar are correct), and provide background links to the information.

Shiny new things can be appealing, but eventually, the shine dulls. Look at all the YouTube one-hit wonders. Evolution of Dance garnered over a hundred million views, but the follow-up only a tenth of that. Well-constructed new things can outlast their newness. Witness Coverville (over 540 episodes), or Rocketboom (over 5 years of weekday vlog posts).

So what should companies moving into new media keep in mind? The basics. What's the story you're trying to tell? And what's the best way to do it? There's plenty of examples out there -- just don't confuse the package for the contents.

- Ralph

Day 223 of the WJMA Web Watch. (So what's the story here? I guess if you don't have one, you don't need a website.)

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