Where are you taking me? courtesy Wikicommons
I am working my way through Simon Schama’s excellent History of Britain.
I am into the third volume, 1776-present. At the moment we are in the middle of the Enlightenment.
This was a fascinating time in Western history. Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes, Francis Hutcheson – the world was suddenly filled with radical and new political ideas that would change the world. These men, and people like them, were both the contemporaries and the forerunners of Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson and Franklin – the people who invented the concept of the United States. It was an incredibly exciting time – at least in the world of politics.
Today’s politicians no longer represent the best in radical thinking or new ideas. They are, at best, managers. They are not creative. They are not radical new thinkers. Not hardly.
There are, however, radical … Read More »
But first… The News!
My friend Peter Klein, a Professor at University of British Columbia, points out a full page ad in the Globe touting the value of ‘professional journalists’.
“‘We believe this is the first step toward taking action to preserve and promote our profession in the future,’’ – says Mary Agnes Welch, a Winnipeg Free Press reporter and former president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.
The idea of having to ‘preserve’ the ‘profession’ is indicative of the terrible state of journalism, not just in Canada, but around the world.
The profession of journalism is in trouble, ironically, not because there is not enough information in the world. Their problem is that there is too much information in the world.
Once, it was both expensive and difficult to acquire news and information. There is no doubt that news and information is important. It was, and remains, … Read More »
The New York Times this morning (and everyone else) was filled with the news of Twitter CEO and Founder Dick Costolo stepping down.
The stock price immediately jumped 7%.
Not that any replacement was announced, nor was there a plan announced that would solve Twitter’s primary problem.
Their primary problem is revenue.
That, and the fact that the number of Twitter users has stalled and seems to be declining.
While more than 1 billion people have signed up for the service, most of them leave without ever posting a thing.
A more hard core 300 million (which is nothing to scoff at) also seem to be in slow decline.
Why is this happening?
(This, by the way is critical, as Twitter’s vast valuation: varying between $38b and $45b – a pretty astonishing number considering its revenue last year was $479m – is based on somehow leveraging ad revenue … Read More »
America’s first Reality Show on TV – image courtesy Wikicommons
On May 3, 1963, Freedom Riders descended on the city of Birmingham, Alabama, demanding equal civil rights for black Americans.
Since the end of the Civil War, or shortly thereafter, black Americans had been denied their equal rights and segregation (and lynchings) were the order of the day.
To combat the Freedom Riders and protestors, Bull Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham ordered the use of fire hoses and attack dogs on the protestors. This too had been, until now, the order of the day, particularly in the South. And up until then, no one had said much about it.
But by 1963 something had changed – and that something was a piece of technology: newly developed portable film cameras for television. As a result, the violent actions taken by the Birmingham Police Department … Read More »
not so complicated…
This morning, Omtalk.com published a fascinating article entitled “How & Why Facebook video can overtake Youtube”.
And they had the stats to back it up:
Facebook only started getting serious about video a year ago, but they already have an astonishing 4 billion daily video views – as many as Youtube after 10 years.
In February of this year, 70 percent of the videos were uploaded directly to Facebook, as opposed to being links back to Youtube. A year earlier, direct uploads were only 25 percent.
There is no question that video is rapidly becoming the lingua franca of the Internet. Ericsson predicts that online video will grow by a ‘staggering 55 percent per year’ between now and 2020. Last month, Cisco predicted that by 2019, video will constitute 80% of web traffic.
That video is going to dominate the web, and mobile … Read More »
The ability to produce video packages is one of the most important skills a journalist can have, according to Phil Chetwynd, global editor-in-chief at AFP.
So says Phil Chetwynd, head of AFP, head of one of the largest and most influential news gathering organizations in the world. Today’s newsletter from Journalism.co.uk covers his recent speech at the World News Media Conference extensively, but we could not agree more. And this is hardly ‘news’ to us.
For more than 25 years we have been preaching the doctrine of video literacy for all journalists, of all stripes. In a digital world, there is no difference whatsoever between print and video (or stills for that matter). It is all digital news gathering and processing.
The great difference now is the iPhone (or smart phone).
Whereas once, creating video required taking a video camera along with your (or … Read More »
Think about it…. (image courtesy Wikicommons)
So NBC seems to have a problem.
Should Brian Williams come back?
Personally, I can’t see what all the agonizing is over, but it might have something to do with the reported $30 million that NBC will have to pay Williams.
That is a lot of money to pay someone not to work.
And Williams does seem to have some sort of following, if only amongst NBC executives.
But here’s my idea.
NBC puts the whole $30 million into a briefcase – or more likely, a steamer trunk.
$30 million is a lot of cash.
Then, they present the briefcase or steamer trunk to Brian and he opens it up.
“That’s a lot of money!” he says. Particularly for someone who has not had a salary for half a year.
But now, they say – “Brian, you can keep all of this money, or you … Read More »
In 1985, Neil Postman published a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death.
Every once in a while you read a book that completely changes the way you see the world.
Once (or maybe twice) you read a book that changes the course of your life.
This was one of those. The latter.
The premise of the book, (for those who have not read it, and I STRONGLY recommend that you do), is that the introduction of television would cause a complete transformation in everything we did, and not for the better. Television, Postman argued, was all about entertaining people, and thus, everything that went through that medium – from politics to news to religion, would now have to become entertaining.
He used the example of political discourse: When Lincoln and Douglas debates for the US Senate seat from Illinois in 1858, their debate went … Read More »
We have the pleasure of living in Midtown Manhattan.
This also means we have the misfortune of living a few blocks from Times Square.
Normally, we try and avoid Times Square at all costs – even if it means walking a few blocks extra to circumambulate the tourist magnet.
But last week, we could not avoid it.
Walking through Times Square as quickly as possible, dodging the Captain Americas, the Spidermans, the Iron Mans and the Naked Cowboy, I was astonished to see about 1,000 people all clustered and staring up at something.
Normally, as a hardened New Yorker, I try and ignore this kind of stuff. But you don’t often seen 1,000 people all staring at a single spot. Something big must be happening. (Maybe someone was jumping off a roof?)
I turned to look.
What they were all staring at, what had grabbed their … Read More »
A different way of looking at the British elections…
Although it is still two years away, America is gearing up for its Presidential election.
With Hillary having already raised more than a reported $2 billion, a lot of money is going to be spent on this one.
And a lot of money is going to be spent by the networks covering the election – particularly election night.
Only a few weeks ago, the UK voted in their national elections, and of course, the returns were covered by all the major broadcasters. They were also covered by students at the University of Winchester, who webcast for 10 hours non-stop.
The Guardian recently did a story on this.
While The BBC does not release its spending on election night coverage, The BBC apparently spends about £7m a day on making their programs. They don’t make them cheap.
We do … Read More »