A Visit to The Facebook Building
Over there… on the left…
Two years ago, we began a very interesting experiment with a major cable provider.
We built and ran (and continue to run) a hyper-local TV station which is probably the most cost-effective in the country. It’s a model for others.
Now, after two years, we are going to start our second one.
When we sat down to do the budgets, the first thing we cut out was the office.
We had an office for the first station, but realized after a year, no one went there. There was no need for it.
All of our video journalists work from the field, cut on their own laptops, and set their own schedules. Coming into an office every day would only eat into their reporting time and serve no purpose. Not to mention the vast cost of a physical office – the building, the desks, the carpet, the lights.Â All unnecessary.
So when we set out to design our second station, we eliminated the building and the office entirely.
Don’t need it.
Don’t want it.
I raised this concept recently at a media conference held at CUNY in New York, chaired by Jeff Jarvis.
Many journalists on my panel were upset at the concept.Â “You need a newsroom” they opined.
No, I don’t think you do.
Facebook now has 170 million members.
It seems to function quite well as a nexus of information, both text and increasingly video.
It gets information, processes it and distributes it.
It has a net value of $15 billion last time I looked.
There are not a few television networks or newspapers that would like to have the same financials as Facebook – or the same viewership.
Outside my livingroom window is 30 Rock, the headquarters for NBC. It’s a very big building and they pay a very big rent to be there.
It’s a remnant of another era.
Have you ever seen The Facebook Building?
Have you ever been inside it?
Have you ever even seen a picture of it?
Where is Facebook?
It is nowhere, and it is everywhere.
Where is the Craigslist Building?Â Craigslist, the website that destroyed the newspaper business in the US.
You don’t need the building to gather, curate, edit and distribute information.
You don’t need the overhead.
The New York Times building on 8th Avenue and 40th Street is a stunning tombstone to $800 million that could have been spent on content, instead of steel and glass.
Newspapers and local TV news (and networks soon) will be faced with the need for major cost cuts. They will fire the editorial staff first, because it’s easier to get the writers out of the building than get the building out of the writers.
But it’s the building that should go.
And the carpet, and the chairs, and the desks and the tables and the coffee machine.
Lose the overhead. Keep the staff – at least the ones who make the content.