4
Dec
2009

cbpodcast

Welcome to another week of the daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of The Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

Mark and I take yet another look at the whole FTC disclosure debacle in the wake of the fact that it has now turned into a joke meme in the blogosphere.  Maybe the FTC will some day decide to clarify itself, until then, let the humor commence.

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

30
Nov
2009

cbpodcast

Welcome to another week of the daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of The Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

Steven and I discuss the FTC guidelines taking effect on Dec. 1st.  Are you preparing your disclosures?  Checking them twice?  We also spend some time discussing the death of the CrunchPad … and laughing about it.

The primary focus is on how the FTC has left so many questions about all of the new rules we are supposed to follow, but yet they remain silent, not answering blogger’s questions.  Do we have to go back and add them to old posts?  What about using the “Like” feature on some sites?  It’s a mess.  (Links thanks to Steven)

Get Ready for Blogger Shameless Tuesday (And Help Us, Too) – Valleywag
Disclose This: I Can’t Disclose Everything Everywhere!Louis Gray
Why the CrunchPad mattered – CrunchGear

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

17
Oct
2009

ftc_logoIt seems it isn’t only myself and a few others who are beginning to take issue with the FTC.

It was really beginning to feel like that Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself were the only ones crying “FOUL!” over the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for bloggers, but this past week a few major groups have spoken out against them, going so far as to call them “unconstitutional”.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which I feel was slow to react to this case, has stated:

EFF believes that bloggers ought to have the same legal protections and privileges as traditional journalists. We urge the FTC to rethink and clarify the problematic aspects of these new rules.

Well, it’s about time someone with some juice stood up and said this!

Then the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a group representing large players in the interactive advertising business such as Google, MSN and AOL, issued an open letter to the FTC:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to withdraw recently issued enforcement guidance regarding the opinions and commentary of bloggers and other participants in social media, saying the rules unfairly and unconstitutionally impose penalties on online media for practices in which offline media have engaged for decades. In an open letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Randall Rothenberg, the President and CEO of the IAB, called the FTC’s distinction between offline media and online media, “constitutionally dubious.”

“Constitutionally dubious.”  Really?  You don’t say.

The letter goes on:

“What concerns us the most in these revisions is that the Internet, the cheapest, most widely accessible communications medium ever invented, would have less freedom than other media,” said Mr. Rothenberg, “These revisions are punitive to the online world and unfairly distinquish between the same speech, based on the medium in which it is delivered. The practices have long been afforded strong First Amendment protections in traditional media outlets, but the Commission is saying that the same speech deserves fewer Constitutional protections online. I urge the Commission to retract the current set of Guides and to commence a fair and open process in order to develop a roadmap by which responsible online actors can engage with consumers and continue to provide the invaluable content and services that have so transformed people’s lives.”

Will the FTC listen to any of this criticism?  Doubtful if their reply to FastCompany is any indication:

“Although the [Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)] contends the FTC’s Endorsement Guides are unconstitutional, the Guides apply only to marketing and they attempt to illustrate some of the factors relevant to distinguishing advertising from editorial content,” says Mary Engle, the FTC’s director of the division of advertising practices, in an email statement released today. “If particular communications do not in fact constitute advertising, as the IAB appears to be suggesting, then the Guides do not apply. Where the message is advertising, however, disseminators have an obligation to ensure it is not misleading. This includes, when it is not otherwise clear from the context, identifying when the endorser has been paid for the endorsement. Although IAB may disagree with the policy, nothing in this approach is unconstitutional,” Engle re-iterated.

What a surprise reply from the FTC.

The FTC is now trying to say that this is more about keeping the advertisers in line than it is the bloggers, but that doesn’t ring with the least bit of truth.  As FastCompany rightly points out:

He points to the oft-cited book review example, in which books received by bloggers are considered a form of compensation and as a result would have to be disclosed. “By saying, ‘Don’t worry, bloggers, we’re going after publishers,’ it’s saying it’s okay to send those books to magazines and newspapers but not to a blog or a social media site or someone who’s known to review on Amazon. It’s saying if publishers send these books to someone who reviews things for Amazon.com, the publisher can be penalized. But if you send them toThe New York Times or The Atlantic or freelancers who does contributing to Publishers Weekly, you do not face the threat of penalty.”

And going back to the open letter from the IAB for a moment:

“They—and we—are not arguing that bloggers and social media be treated differently than incumbent media. After all, most newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television networks, in recognition that Americans are embracing new forms of social communications, have established their own blogs, boards, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and the like. Rather, we’re saying the new conversational media should be accorded the same rights and freedoms as other communications channels.”

And that hits the nail on the head.  New media is not asking to be treated any differently than traditional media, but yet that is exactly what the FTC has done.  They have set one set of standards for legacy media, and a completely different set for new media.

Many people have said to me, “If you have nothing to hide, why not disclose?”.  Well, I am perfectly willing to disclose, but I just want an even playing field for both old and new media.  The example of review books is the easiest one to deal with, and it is the most direct.  Why should my reviewing a book require a disclosure that old media gets to skate totally over?  The FTC has said it is because those books are assigned by editorial staff, and it is not sent directly to the writer, but that isn’t always the case.  There are times where the books are sent directly to the writers, and they do in fact get to keep the book, just because they are writing in a print publication they are somehow exempt from any semblance of wrong doing, but because I write for a blog, I am immediately assumed to be of some sort of lower moral fiber and I have been potentially bought off with the book.

Currently sitting on my desk is a stack of six books I have been sent by publishers.  I did not request any of these books, and I honestly don’t know why I got them as I have never reviewed a book on any site, but there they are.  The letters that come with them always say that I am under no obligation to review the books, but that they hope that I might.  I have not chosen to review them, or even read them, because they really aren’t my style of books, but if I did ever choose to review any of them, that would be my choice.  It would not be because I feel some moral obligation to do so, and it would certainly not be because I feel indebted to the publisher for “giving” it to me.  Under these new guidelines though, I would be obligated to tell my readers that I had been given this book because I can’t be trusted to write a fair review in the eyes of the FTC.  My feeling is this would lessen the impact of anything positive I would say about a book that I genuinely liked as it obviously motivated me enough to write it.  It would bring my standards into question with my readers because they could go, “Well, obviously Sean went overboard with his positive feelings because he was given this book.”

Oddly enough, when you read the full guidelines from the FTC (PDF link), it sounds as though you only have to disclose if you give a positive review, and no time does it state that disclosure is required for negative reviews.  So, apparently if I hate something (I know … that’s so unusual for me) I am free of any questionably moral actions on my part.

These “guidelines”, which are effective as of Dec. 1st, will end up in court folks, and my gut tells me that a judge is going to tell the FTC that it’s either a level playing field for all, or nothing at all.

7
Oct
2009

ftc_logoDay 3 of “The Blogopshere vs. the FTC” brings us the full set of guidelines, and wow are they head spinning.

I really don’t want to blog daily on this whole Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guideline debacle, but it just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

First off, I finally got a link to the full 81-page document (PDF link) from Steven Hodson, and although I have only read through 51 pages thus far, this is going to be mandatory reading for every independent blogger if you want to make sure to keep yourself from getting in trouble with the FTC.  That being said, be prepared for the extreme ambiguity of the document on many fronts.

So far I have still yet to find anywhere that describes in detail how disclosures are supposed to be written.  It mentions numerous times that you must disclose if you receive a product for free and then give it a positive review (there is some implication that disclosure is not required on negative reviews), but nowhere does it say how are exactly where it is to be placed.

The document also discusses new rules for celebrity endorsements and how they are supposed to disclose their relationship with anything they speak positively of.  The problem with this is that at no time do they define what a celebrity is.  On tonight’s episode of CobWEBs, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and I discussed this, and technically you could call iJustine a celebrity, but that is only to a handful of people on the Internet.  Heck, there was even a time when I was working for Wizard magazine that I was being asked for my autograph on a regular basis, would that have qualified me as a celebrity?  I was a celebrity to those people, but not to the other 99.999999999% of the population of the country, but would I have qualified for the FTC celebrity rules?  Who knows, their answers are so vague.

Then to muddy the waters even further, Richard Cleland, assistant director, division of advertising practices at the FTC (and someone Rizzn has been trying to get an interview with for 3 months with no luck) spoke with FastCompany, and made some of the most mind boggling statements ever.

Heather B. Armstrong, author of parenting blog Dooce: “Eleven thousand dollars is a little crazy for a post. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I think a lot of people who are in violation [of not disclosing] just don’t know that they’re supposed to.”

Richard Cleland: “That $11,000 fine is not true. Worst-case scenario, someone receives a warning, refuses to comply, followed by a serious product defect; we would institute a proceeding with a cease-and-desist order and mandate compliance with the law…

Excuse me?  When did the FTC start writing laws?  They are a regulatory body, they are not capable of making “laws”.  Perhaps he was misquoted, but if the FTC really sees this as “law”, we’re in bigger trouble than any of us first thought.

Brian Lam, editorial director of Gizmodo: “Some colleagues of mine just reminded me of how many freelance pro journalists take junkets. In the end, I’m glad these rules are being introduced, but it’s kind of stupid to attach unethical behavior to a particular publishing medium. Look at how shitty TV journalism can be, by and large.”

RC: “It’s not the medium, it’s the message. We want to establish a self-imposed ethical standard so people are aware of the conflicts of interest…

“We want to establish a self-imposed…” um … which part of this sentence makes any sense?  How does person #2 establish SELF-IMPOSED anything on person #1?

This is what we are dealing with folks: vagueness, ambiguity and a regulatory body that seems to have no clue what its actual job is.  If you aren’t scared yet, you aren’t thinking.

7
Oct
2009

cbslogosmall

Welcome to another week of the daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of The Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkin and I continue to discuss all the discussion surrounding the FTC guidelines that we covered on Monday.  Just before we recorded, the mysterious Richard Cleland from the FTC, someone Mark has been trying to interview for 3 months, spoke with FastCompany to try to “clear up” some of the misconceptions we have over the guidelines.  Trust us … who just ends up making it worse.

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

6
Oct
2009

ftc_logoSorry folks, but this Federal Trade Commission dust up is going to be front and center at this blog for some time to come.

In all of the hoopla yesterday, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins, Steven Hodson and myself ran into many instances of being questioned over our vehement hatred of the new guidelines, and also more examples of just how messed up this whole thing is.

“Print media is already under these rules.”

No, they aren’t.

This was the most tired argument I have seen, and it simply isn’t true.  If this was true, I want you to point out to me where movie reviewers disclose that they got into a movie for free or got sent a DVD copy of the movie for free.  We all know it happens, but have you ever seen them disclose it?  Same goes for book, movie and DVD reviews.

Now, under these new FTC rules, if I decide to review anything, and if it was sent to me for free, then I have to write a disclosure every single time I do it.  Tell me how these are the same rules traditional media has been under.

“Facebook and Twitter fall under these rules also.”

Yep, all that fun you have on social media sites?  Well, prepare yourself to always disclose your relationship for any product you speak positively of.

Caroline McCarthy of CNET spoke with a Richard Cleland, associate director for the FTC’s advertising division, and here is the scenario he set up to explain the Facebook scenario:

Here’s a sample scenario: a celebrity or other prominent figure with loads of friends on Facebook receives free hotel says [sic] from Hotel Chain X in exchange for running Hotel Chain X ads on his or her blog. If that person then signs up as a Facebook fan of Hotel Chain X–which, remember, could mean that the person’s name can show up for his or her Facebook friends alongside Hotel Chain X display ads on the social network–he or she could be held liable by the FTC.

“It would be the same thing if you were going to pay the celebrity a thousand dollars to go register as a fan,” Cleland said. “In that case, there wouldn’t be any question about it.”

And as for new media darling Twitter?

As for Twitter, the FTC isn’t letting you get a pass with the excuse that 140 characters–Twitter’s famous text limit–is simply too short. “There are ways to abbreviate a disclosure that fit within 140 characters,” Cleland said. “You may have to say a little bit of something else, but if you can’t make the disclosure, you can’t make the ad.”

So, think you will be exempt from this if you aren’t a blogger.  Too bad.  If you have any sort of relationship with a product, and you make a comment anywhere on the Web about it, you better be prepared to disclose your relationship.

“This is all about going after sploggers.”

No, it isn’t.

In a discussion between Steven Hodson and Matt Cutts of Google on The Noisy Channel, they brought up the discussion of how this will cut out bad marketing:

Steven: “No degree of FTC intervention is going to make any difference to splogs or other such garbage…”

Matt: At a respected search conference last year, I sat in the audience and watched a presenter recommend “sock puppet” marketing by coming up with fake personas to promote products. With this new guidance from the FTC (plus similar recent guidance in the UK/EU against sock puppet marketing), that sort of bad advice will be much less likely to appear at search conferences. That’s one easy counter-example.

No, Matt, it isn’t.  You are talking about advice given at a conference, big deal.  The Sock Puppet marketers will simply start hiring people from Africa and India off of GetAFreelancer or other such sites and have them do that sort of marketing far from the reach of the USA, UK or EU.

And that is one of my biggest complaints about this whole thing is that the unethical people it is supposedly targeting will just find new ways of working around it, while those of us who follow ethical blogging and online presence will be saddled with these idiotic new rules, libing under fear of some little slip up costing us a potential $11,000 fine.  Oh yeah, that makes things so much better.
ftcthug

“This will stop all those fake review sites.”

Are you kidding me?

Lets say that an “unethical” blogger is currently working out of the USA with their web site on servers that reside in the USA.  They want to get away from these new rules so they move their site to servers in another country, they put privacy protection on their domain name and then they sit back.

The FTC finds them lacking disclosure, they will have to get a court order to reveal the name of the person who holds the ownership of the domain.  So the FTC will have to weight taking the time to get the court order, and in some cases they will have to go through a court in another country, is it really worth all of that effort, time and taxpayer money for a possibly undisclosed material relationship?  You guessed it, I would go with “no.”  Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

All of the “bad” sites will simply move off shore to countries that don’t care about all of this hoopla, and the innocent people will yet again be left to jumping through hoops that should have never been required.

“This system is ripe for abuse.”

Yes, it is.

We have no clue what the investigation process will be like yet, but what is to stop people from reporting you for fun or revenge?  “Oh, hey, I think so-and-so has a relationship with that company they just posted abut on Facebook.”  Oh won’t that be fun to defend yourself from false accusations?  This is why some people will be better off even disclosing when they purchased something to cut off any possible questioning to avoid any sense in impropriety.

In other words, people will be so annoyed by having to watch their behinds that they simply won’t want to talk any more.

“Aren’t you worrying about this too much?”

No, I’m not.

I have done more reading today, and the tone of the conversations have changed quite a bit in the second day.  Check out SiliconANGLE’s FTC vs. the Blogosphere Day 2 Roundup to get a better sense of what is being said everywhere.  (disclosure: I am linked to in that article and I work for SiliconANGLE … see … won’t that get annoying?)

Also make sure to check out Steven Hodson’s questions that he is still waiting for answers to:

1. Will these same ‘guidelines’ be applied against “traditional media” and if not – why not?

2. What exact form do these disclosure need to take? Per post? Per page? Per comment?

3. Is this retroactive? Does this mean that sites like Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Mashable, – well every single blog past and present will have to go through all their archives and add a disclaimer. Because we all know that posts that are even months or years old can resurface.

4.Will book publishers make signing a disclosure form a part of bloggers doing book reviews and is it really worth the effort at that point?

5. Does the country of origin of the writer matter as to whether a disclosure is included?

6. Does it matter the country of origin of where the blog served from come into play?

7 Does the country of origin of the product, service or book come into play at all?

(disclaimer: I know Steven and make fun of his Canadian citizenship on a regular basis)

The FTC has got to start defining this whole thing better, but somehow I don’t see that coming any time soon.

5
Oct
2009

cbslogosmall

In a break from the normal Daily Edition format of just two of the Cynical Bastards taking on an issue, both Steven Hodson and Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins join me today to tackle the subject of the FTCs attack on bloggers.

Yes, I edited the title of the episode, “Anyone thinking the FTC blogger rules are good are f***wads” because I opted to avoid the F-word in my title, but the exact quote, that came from my very own lips in the episode is that I said “f***tards”, and I stand by that.  If you agree with what the FTC has done, you are insanely short sighted and have zero ability to grasp the scope of what this foretells.

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

FTC to Bloggers: Disclose Freebies or Face $11,000 FineReadWriteWeb

FTC Values Sponsored Conversations at $11,000 Apiece. – TechCrunch

FTC Launches New Guidelines For Blogs – StarterTech

FTC Media Roundup: The Good, the Bad and the Indifferent – SiliconANGLE

FTC says bloggers must disclose payments and freebies when reviewing products or risk being fined $16,000 – Orlando Sentinel

Bloggers Must Disclose Payments for Reviews – New York Times

FTC to Fine Bloggers up to $11,000 for Not Disclosing Payments – Mashable

FTC regulates our speech – Jeff Jarvis

[Special] CobWEBs Daily Podcast: Anyone thinking the FTC blogger rules are a good thing are fuckwads – Shooting at Bubbles

The FTC brings out the nut crackers and centers out bloggers – The Inquisitr

Please do yourselves a favor and research this situation for yourself, and if you disagree with us, tell us so, but don’t be surprised if we call you a F***tard.

22
Dec
2012

Disney - George Lucas

The purchase of Lucasfilm by the Walt Disney Company is now complete. Prepare for movies!

Announced on Halloween, the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney has already received approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) faster than you can say “jump to light speed.” Thanks to a higher than expected price for shares of Disney, the purchase price ended up closing out at $4.06 billion, just slightly ahead of the originally announced $4.05 billion.

Disney is wasting no time in trying to earn back that chunk of change. According to a report from Blue Sky Disney, the Star Wars comic books will start coming to Marvel as of 2015. Dark Horse Comics has been publishing titles in the famous universe since 1991, but according to sources, no new contracts will be awarded to them after 2013, and the titles will instead go to Marvel which Disney purchased a few years ago.

Why does this line spoken by Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope come to mind? “The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.”

THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY COMPLETES LUCASFILM ACQUISITION

Deal expected to strengthen Disney’s position as a leading global provider of high-quality branded entertainment and build long-term shareholder value

BURBANK, Calif., December 21, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, Robert A. Iger,  President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) announced today that Disney has completed its acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Lucasfilm to the Disney family,” said Iger. “Star Wars is one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time and this transaction combines that world class content with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets, which we believe will generate growth as well as significant long-term value.”

Under the terms of the merger agreement, at closing Disney issued 37,076,679 shares and made a cash payment of $2,208,199,950. Based upon the closing price of Disney shares on December 21, 2012 at $50.00, the transaction has a total value of approximately $4.06 billion.

Lucasfilm’s assets include its massively popular Star Wars franchise, operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production, as well as a substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies.  It operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC, LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound.

3
Aug
2010

Normally Moronic Monday is the only day filled with stupid stories, but so many happened today that it felt like a hangover …

(Links by Steven for some of the stories we discuss in this episode)

Braindead TechCast Episode #117

11
Jun
2010

A night filled with computer problems for both Steven and I leads to us being a bit snarkier than usual for TechMeme Friday, but is that really a bad thing?

(Links by Steven for some of the stories we discuss in this episode)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

21
May
2010

It’s Friday, and around the Braindead Techcast, that means it’s TechMeme Friday!  Woo-hoo!  Nothing like making fun of a whole bunch of stories all in one shot!  As always, we just head down the TechMeme page and comment on each story, stopping to comment on the most interesting ones, and mock the others.

(Links by Steven for some of the stories we discuss in this episode)

Search more securely with encrypted Google web search – The Official Google Blog
FTC Closes its Investigation of Google AdMob Deal – Federal Trade Commission
An Open Letter to our Valued Customers – AT&T
Facebook confirms plans for ‘simple’ privacy settings – CNET News
Sayonara, iPhone: Why I’m Switching to Android – Daniel Lyons
Security Issues Could Force Facebook to Slow Down Product Development – Inside Facebook
Y Combinator Closes New $8.25 Million Fund, Sequoia Is Lead Investor – TechCrunch
Apple Officially Ends ‘Get a Mac’ Campaign, Revamps ‘Why You’ll Love a Mac’ Feature – MacRumors
US Court: RapidShare Not Guilty of Copyright Infringement – TorrentFreak
iPad Sold Out at Many Apple Stores – Digital Daily

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24
Jan
2010


As someone who works as a professional blogger, I hear endlessly about how print media is blaming all of its woes on “new media.”  Well, I’ve got a news flash for you, if you just stop whining and work at it, you can save yourselves.

Earlier this week, Peter Kafka at Media Memo reported that magazine publisher Condé Nast sold 6,614 copies of the Dec. issue of GQ via iTunes, and some 12,000 copies of the Jan. issue.  At $2.99 each, that comes out to $55655.86, minus the 30 percent Apple keeps from app sales means they grossed $389595.10.  Of course this doesn’t count in conversion from print, paying writers and so on, but it does show that an experiment can work, and there is money to be made on the iPod Touch and iPhone for print media.

Of course it isn’t just Apple products where print media is pulling itself up by the proverbial boot straps.  I recently interviewed Paul Greenberg, Executive Vice President & General Manager of TVGuide.com, for TechnoBuffalo.  You would think of all the publications from the old days of ‘print as king’ that should have died off, TV Guide should be fairly high on that list due to the nature of on-screen guides from your cable company and satellite providers.  Instead the company is thriving in the digital age with a Web site that is drawing in users in droves.  Here are just some of its statistics:

  • Four years ago the site averaged four million unique visitors a month, it is now at 21 million a month with 45 percent year-over-year growth
  • Each user averages a session time of 18 minutes, 36 page views per visit and five visits per month
  • 50 percent are under the age of 35 (25 percent four years ago), and 29 percent have an annual household income of over $100K
  • iPhone app has over 400K installs

If you aren’t familiar with Web statistics, 18 minute user sessions is a huge number.  Most sites are happy in the single digits, but TVGuide.com is not just pulling them in through search engine optimization, they are keeping them there once they arrive.  This is a huge selling point for advertisers that want to by ad inventory on the site.

So here you have two stalwarts of the old guard print media that have quietly been working on ways to keep up with technology, and making it work for them.  On the flip side you have Rupert Murdoch of News Corp whining and moaning incessantly about the evils of new media.  His solution to all of this is to pull his company’s content from the Web as much as possible.  He is trying to get other publishers to agree with him to cut off Google from being able to index their stories because they feel they are nothing more than thieves.  In addition to casting out these scoundrels, they also want to begin charging for their content.

Of course what they don’t understand is that by cutting off indexing of their sites, it won’t matter if they charge for their stories, no one will be able to find them.

Just as the music industry has tried to blame all of its woes on piracy, the majority of print media is trying to find a scapegoat for their own short comings.  At the FTC’s How Will Journalism Survive The Internet Age? conference back in Dec., Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post spent the majority of her 25 minute speaking session attacking these ideas according to paidContent.

Apparently, some in the old media have decided that it is, in fact, an either/or game and that the best way to save, if not journalism, at least themselves, is by pointing fingers and calling names.  In most industries, if your customers were leaving in droves, you would try to figure out what to do to get them back.

And that brings us back to the start.  There are at least two companies that have stopped their finger pointing (not that they ever did any actual finger pointing to the best of my knowledge) and done things to get their customers back.  One has gone a paid route, the other has remained free, so it is evidence that both methods do work, but it is still evidence that print media can survive in the digital age as opposed to hunting it down like Frankenstein’s monster, torches in hand.

One of the things Mr. Greenberg from TVGuide.com said to me repeatedly, and it really stuck with me, was that the site was successful because it was “immersive.”  When you visit their site, the wealth of information you find relating to any television property is impressive by any measure.  He also said one of the keys to the TV networks surviving the onslaught of online media was that “they have to evolve quickly.”  Well, yes, they do, and so do their print counterparts.

It is a law of nature that if a species doesn’t evolve to new surroundings, it dies off.  Print media has to evolve, and it has to do it as soon as possible.  If they are busy using their fingers to point to the evil new media as opposed to typing out code on keyboards, guess what’s going to happen to them.