Saturday, August 11, 2007

The walls are falling and the pace is quickening...

It looks like the firewall on the New York Times could drop as well as the Wall Street Journal.
Citing anonymous sources, the New York Post has reported that rival Manhattan paper The New York Times is planning to do away with TimesSelect, the subscription-only content on its Web site. According to the article by Holly M. Sanders, the main obstacle at the moment is reconfiguring the site's software. [More]
This is the power of the Internet, and millions of tiny little blogs like this made it happen. When we link to articles we drive traffic to newspaper websites and offer them at least the hope of selling advertising they are NOT selling in print additions.

Now explain to me how is going to pull off subscription-based blogs in our tiny sector when the NYT can't sell Pulitzer-winning columnists.

Even more curious, the more people use the Internet, the less they trust MSM (mainstream media), both print and broadcast.
The internet news audience – roughly a quarter of all Americans – tends to be younger and better educated than the public as a whole. People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical of press performance. As many as 38% of those who rely mostly on the internet for news say they have an unfavorable opinion of cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, compared with 25% of the public overall, and just 17% of television news viewers. [More]

To my surprise, this distrust if fueled largely by the right, not the left, and perhaps has its roots in the often caustic output of staunchly right-wing blogs and websites.

And speaking of bloggers, check out how the first NYTimes blog column by Freakonomics author Steven Levitt was a doozy:
Hearing about these rules got me thinking about what I would do to maximize terror if I were a terrorist with limited resources. I’d start by thinking about what really inspires fear. One thing that scares people is the thought that they could be a victim of an attack. With that in mind, I’d want to do something that everybody thinks might be directed at them, even if the individual probability of harm is very low. Humans tend to overestimate small probabilities, so the fear generated by an act of terrorism is greatly disproportionate to the actual risk. [More]
Notice the hundreds of comments - many of them outraged, in agreement, or (like me) just astonished by somebody actually saying out loud stuff we had been thinking privately.

His defense of the first article is here (also with hundreds of comments) and contains this rational passage:
One view is the following: the main reason we aren’t currently being decimated by terrorists is that the government’s anti-terror efforts have been successful.

The alternative interpretation is that the terror risk just isn’t that high and we are greatly overspending on fighting it, or at least appearing to fight it. For most government officials, there is much more pressure to look like you are trying to stop terrorism than there is to actually stop it. The head of the TSA can’t be blamed if a plane gets shot down by a shoulder-launched missile, but he is in serious trouble if a tube of explosive toothpaste takes down a plane. Consequently, we put much more effort into the toothpaste even though it is probably a much less important threat.

Likewise, an individual at the CIA isn’t in trouble if a terrorist attack happens; he or she is only in trouble if there is no written report that details the possibility of such an attack, which someone else should have followed up on, but never did because there are so many such reports written.

My guess is that the second scenario — the terrorism threat just isn’t that great — is the more likely one. Which, if you think about it, is the optimistic view of the world. But that probably still makes me a moron, a traitor, or both.
It is hard not to see this type of interaction between media and readers and fail to reach some implications for the future. For example, it is now clear to me we are inventing the dominant communication channels of the future. And judging by what we're planning at FJ Media - you ain't seen nothing yet.

1 comment:

Brian said...

So John,

Did you ever see a CD warning from Homeland Security about that hot rain storm that I told you about, or the second one?

Shortly after I sent you that, I was watching CSPAN with that guy from Pakistan on the channel they always tell us to tune to- for info, and a blank monthly CD drill just wiped out everything he was saying.