Why You Can’t Tie Advertising to News

Just listened to This Week in Google with Jeff Jarvis and Leo Laporte. Great show, which is getting to be less and less about Google, and more about Jeff’s increasingly innovative ideas about how we can change journalism and the news.

I find it fascinating how Leo Laporte’s model for Tech News Tonight and Tech News Today goes completely contrary to his co-host Jeff’s new vision of news. Instead of doing small bits- and notifying people simply when there is actual real news happening, instead Leo created two news show, where there’s most likely not nearly enough “news” to talk about.

I would agree that this is a conundrum as the news itself is evolving, and folks are scrambling to figure out what “news” even is anymore. 24-hour news shows, have nothing to talk about anymore, mostly because we’ve already heard about the news on the Internet already. They increasingly have less and less to offer.

In Leo’s case- having people stand around when nothing is happening- is not helpful, which is why I wonder what TNT and TN2N will be talking about on days when… nothing happens. Which is often. How can you promise to your viewers and listeners that you’re going to talk about the news- when you can’t predict if there is any?

Whom Does The Contract Lie With- Viewers or Advertisers?

This is where the problem lies. In this old model- the “news every day at 5pm” model- the promise here is not made to the viewers and listeners. The contract- is with the advertisers. How can you sell ads when you can’t guarantee that there is going to be a show? You can’t! So- it puts the content creators in a bind. You’re going to have to “create” news or manufacture a conversation based on whatever that day offers- which might be the dregs at the bottom of the teacup.

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Screencap from Tech News Today’s In-Show Ad

Now- I happen to like a lot of the content on TwiT, so my annoyance is not personal with the content creators there. I’m inspired by a lot of the ideas and conversation there. My problem is with what “experts” call real news. We’re in a transitionary period where the old MSM can’t let go of old habits, and would rather die than innovate. If we continue to think of news as a campfire-gathering experience, where the entire world watches at the same time- we are not going to evolve.

How About This Idea For News

I like this model- when news is breaking- we get a notification on our smart phones about that news- 2 minutes tops. Stitcher does breaking news notifications through its app- so we get the news immediately. Google Now has been giving me breaking weather updates- that has been very helpful and is hyper-relavant. Now- in the evening- simply publish *all* the breaking news bits, sewn together, as a lean-back experience, so we can all get caught up if we missed any. I’d like to watch that some time in the evening in, perhaps, a YouTube playlist. It might be 15- 20 minutes long, if that. And if you want to offer commentary after that well that’s great. Analyze it, but don’t analyze stuff that doesn’t exist.

No News Is Great News

If there’s no news that day- then there’s no news. I think what we’re discovering- is that if news is to be a public good, if journalism is truly a public service- you CAN’T tie it to an ad model. This is what is inherently wrong with this formula. You’re sacrificing real news at the expense of our time. And please don’t waste our time.

Our time is becoming increasingly more valuable.

Image Credit: Shannon Kringen on Flickr

Written by

Education Community Manager @ Tynker.com, Maker Faire Producer, EdCamp Illinois Organizer, Illinois Computing Educator. Proud Maker.

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