Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nelson Mandela is not dead

If you casually glance at Google Trends every morning, you will likely be starting your day with the latest misinformation from the Internet. Hey! Nelson Mandela died. Oh, wait, no he didn't. But Chris Henry did. No, he's still alive, too. (Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Henry has subsequently passed away, according to the AP and other reports.)

Trends is just reporting back to us what we're searching on using Google, not what really happened. It is certainly easy to believe people will miss this point when they see the words "Nelson Mandela dead" on a page published by Google.

With the power of social media in the hands of everyone, it's easy for people to game the system. Did the Mandela rumor come out of marketing efforts behind the new film "Invictus"? Seems plausible.

Just as I cringe when my daughter is encouraged by her teachers to use Wikipedia to research her homework (like last night when she insisted to me that the average temperature of a certain part of Canada is negative zero because it says it right there, Dad), I lament how much we trust everything we see on the Web.

("Papa says if you see it in Wikipedia, it's so," right Virginia?)

In this age of truthiness, Wikitruth and need to know instantly, perhaps all the information available to us is making us a little less well informed.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Analyzing Newspaper Reporting to Predict Economic Direction

Some Dow Jones colleagues are using text mining analysis across years of newspaper articles (back-tested to 1990) and have created an incredibly interesting analysis of how the media's reporting can predict the direction of the economy.

The new Dow Jones Economic Sentiment Indicator analyzes the coverage of the economy in a handful of influential newspapers to quantify economic sentiment.

According to the ESI's Web site

The ESI represents one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching examinations of media coverage as an economic indicator. [Back testing shows] the ESI clearly highlighted the risk that the U.S. economy was sliding into recession in 2001 and 2008 and suggests the indicator can help predict economic turning points as much as seven months in advance of other indicators.
Rob Passarella, the Director of Product Strategy for Algorithmic and Electronic Products at Dow Jones, blogs about this and other things.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

So many ways to think about measuring social media

This wiki, Social Media Metrics, Measurement and ROI, run by Beth Kanter, who focuses on how non-profits can use social media, includes a very nice list of resources that apply to the for-profit world too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another Newspaper Obituary, as 146 years of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Ends

The end of another era. (With the caveat that the P-I is going to give it a go as a Web-only publication.)

It's a case of 117,000 print customers not being enough to sustain what might soon be the archaic printed newspaper, as the Seattle P-I publishes its last edition.

It remains to be seen how these news gathers can make the switch to an all-digital future. Put differently, how easily can newspapers remove the "paper" and still be what they once were.

Look at the first line of the PI's web site's "about us" page.

"For hundreds of thousands of people in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest,
it's not morning without their P-I."

Their mission has to change now. Their readers no longer read what they write just with their morning coffee. It's hard to do so in the subway (ok, maybe not in Seattle) or at the diner counter or while waiting for an oil change or in the bathroom. Newspapers fit many scenarios where the digital medium doesn't.

So with another mighty giant now reduced to bits and bytes, the question remains will the readers follow.


Friday, February 27, 2009

The New Meaning of 'Newspaper Obituaries'

Every time I read one of these newspaper obituaries (a term with new meaning) -- Rocky Mountain News Ceases Operations -- I am saddened and shocked at what is happening to this once vibrant industry.

As the paper stated on its fairwell message, Goodbye, Colorado

"...We hope Coloradans will remember this newspaper fondly from generation to generation, a reminder of Denver’s history – the ambitions, foibles and virtues of its settlers and those who followed. We are confident that you will build on their dreams and find new ways to tell your story."
I'm not confident that we as a society know what those new ways will be.

The press has been called the fourth estate as it is a vital check on our government.

Can a democracy remain healthy without a strong press? Can "the press" be in the hands of just a few media powerhouses? We need diversity of reportage.

Who is going to fill the gap when newspapers die? The pulp news of CNN, MSNBC and Fox? I hope not. The AP? Not, if they have no member newspapers to pay for their reportage? Perhaps we need the BBC model of taxing the people to pay for journalists. Not sure Americans are willing to pay for that.

Online news publishing needs a new model and probably one that requires micro-payments of readers. Information can't be free. It costs money to produce it. And you get what you pay for.

And don't tell me "blogs". Blogs, with almost no exceptions, write commentary based on articles written by professional journalists. they are not out working beats, getting leads, interviewing public officials, and the like. Will they fill this gap? I can't see that happening any time soon. What's the business model to pay for that?

I'm reminded of a poster in my journalism class in college with a caption stating: "If the press didn't tell us, who would?"

Who indeed?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hey are you listening to me?

This post is the first time I've seen these thoughts pulled together, summarized as:.

As a presenter, the idea of presenting while people are talking about you is
disconcerting. But to balance that, there are huge benefits to the individual
members of the audience and to the overall output of a conference or meeting.

Dealing with the "back-channel" is a fascinating challenge for presenters at conferences. Perhaps now this happens more in IT conferences than other industries, but if that's true, it will change quickly.

I'm sure professors are already dealing with this too.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Press Release Tweets Seem Logical but are Journos Plugged In?

Vocus is adding a feature to allow PR professionals to notify their followers when they've put out a new press release. It sounds like a logical thing to do and probably was pretty easy for Vocus to add, so it makes sense to offer it.

I wonder however, how many folks in PR are now embracing Twitter and perhaps, more to the point of this feature, how many journalists are expecting to hear about news releases via tweets. Certainly some journalists are already embracing Twitter but does that skew toward those covering IT?