Thursday, July 7, 2011

Phone hacking scandal leads to closing of News of the World

In stunning news, Rupert Murdoch is closing his News of the World in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

Meanwhile, the Murdoch media empire quakes

If you are not familiar with the wonderful German word "Schadenfreude," you probably can't understand my feeling about watching Rupert Murdoch and his company reeling from reports about its News of the World British tabloid suffering after allegedly hacking into the private telephone of a murdered girl and deleting messages while police were hunting for her before her body was found.

Advertisers and subscribers are leaving not only that newspaper and others while media folks are repeating all the story of how Murdoch has allegedly lied and cheated his way to control of much of the media. Probably the best coverage is in a Murdoch competitor in London, the Guardian. That paper has at least nine stories today with links to the whole sordid affair.

By the "Schadenfreude" is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

Make that a big oooooppppsssss

Meanwhile, while continuing to write about a court trial that I deliberately did not follow until the verdict, the story of what happened to Entemann's when it's social media company fired off the Tweet at right without thinking (and I do mean without thinking) shows once again that you need to be on top of your game if you are trying instant marketing.

This story tells what happened well. The moral is that a cute phrase isn't always a good one.

Crime does pay

Despite almost universal criticism, Headline News' Nancy Grace's over-wrought and highly-unethical coverage of the Casey Anthony (or as Grace called her, "the Tot Mom") trial brought the network its highest ratings ever. I suspect some of them watched, just as everyone at a race track stands to watch a crash or we gather to watch a fire.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meanwhile, boycotting Murdoch

And speaking of scummy "journalism" (???), news today is of many advertisers either pulling their advertising from Rupert Murdoch's sordid British tabloid News of the World or thinking of it in the wake of reports of that paper's hacking into phone records of a missing British teen, later found dead. Good. I like boycotts, and am currently boycotting several brands, organizations and even a company. When the rich and powerful misbehave, they should be punished, and when you have Murdoch's lack of a moral code, let the market do its job.

Of Casey Anthony, Nancy Grace and the modern sob sister

Despite not watching a second of the trial, I've been fascinated by American media's overcoverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial, especially the discussions of the media performance.

Just as I knew was bound to happen, the conversation turned to Headline New''s Nancy Grace whose record is littered with wild accusations, hounding of women -- especially mothers of missing children -- and at least one such young mother driven to suicide.

Roy Peter Clark, one of the truly great writers out there, has pulled things into perspective with a blog calling Grace a modern sob sister. I think that's unfair to sob sisters, although his analogy of Grace leading the townspeople with torches out after Frankenstein's monster is pretty right on. Grace presiding over the Salem Witch Trials or the Spanish Inquisition also seems spot on.

The role of media, especially activist media like Grace, is something that affects us all, if only because we are all tarnished by some.

Are devices getting too complex?

One of the aspects of the new media that I continue to grapple with is the matter of complexity. I've always been an early-adapter, paying premiums for the newest toys, and have a house filled with computers (my wife and I have 8 working computers in our house; we regularly use five of them), iPhones, iPads, DVRs, Apple TV and the like. But how complex do I want my devices?

This week I was struck by two different trends. Yesterday it was Starbucks' plan to pack more into its smart phone application, including the ability to pay for your coffee by holding up your smart phone.

Today, it's a report that consumers are indifferent to Internet-connected TV. Most people -- 62 percent, a survey said -- "are not connected or not capable" and "most plan to stay that way."

A couple of weeks ago, it was a report that smart phones may eliminate keys -- including car keys, using Internet connections.

All this makes me wonder if we are asking too much of our equipment. Is it getting just too complex? Case in point: While I was away recently, my daughter and wife wanted to watch a movie on Netflix, which I connect to a TV using an Apple TV connector box. Reaching Netflix involved changing a TV setting using a cable TV-provided remote to shift to another component, then the Apple TV remote to make the connection with Netflix. Since I generally use these connections, my family didn't know how to get to the film at Netflix, and ended up skipping it.

Seems to me that the plans detailed above -- especially the Internet key option -- are not only complex, but fraught with the possibilities of bad things happening. What if the Internet goes out, and I can't get my car to open. Even a 3g or 4g network can be spotty (using Skype from Italy last month was almost impossible due to the lousy network).

So maybe that 62 percent is opting for simplicity. And they may be right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Social media rank can pay off

And where do you rank among social media folks? Does it make a difference? Marketing blogger Mitch Joel says it does, and offers evidence.

MSNBC just sort of drifted into lefty stance, Zucker says

Interesting interview with former NBCU chief Jeff Zucker in which he explains how MSNBC came to be "liberal." It wasn't a deliberate reaction to Fox News' right-leaning stance, he said, it just sort of happened. Keith Olbermann's show was a hit, so they added a companion left show, then another.

What makes it most interesting is that, unlike Fox, Zucker doesn't try to said MSNBC is "fair and balanced." He admits the slant. I don't think Fox can, although there is nothing wrong with advocacy media -- if it admits it's an advocate.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I'm too lazy for the news, I guess

While reading yet another breathless pronouncement that Twitter would become the new newspaper, I suddenly had an epiphany: I'm just too lazy for that news media future.

The story, from PC magazine, talks about setting up a TweetDeck alert box on the corner of my computer screen where I can monitor the latest news feeds from selected publications. That's where my laziness comes in. It's not just that I'm way too lazy to set up an efficient TweetDeck that "marvelously condenses your social media profiles and data streams into one highly customizable application," but also that I'm too lazy to keep checking the thing constantly so that news that I care about isn't bumped by even newer news that I care about (that, by the way, is my problem with Twitter; by the time I get around to checking it, important tweets telling me Bill Simmons' opinion about the latest NBA trade or my niece ???'s [name withheld to protect the innocent] latest heartthrob are long gone, bumped by the likes of "Happy 4th of July" or "Today in new ways for the @cubs to lose -- a WILD PITCH," which are the two most recent Tweets).

It's hard work keeping up with all the social media. Facebook posts are here, then buried under even newer posts. If I just weren't so lazy, I'd spend all my time reading the new media. Or I could just read a newspaper, either on paper or online. I will point out that despite the fact that "everybody knows" the evening TV news is dead since "everyone" watches the 24/7 cable channels, viewership for the lowest-rated TV evening news sho is about seven times that of the highest rated cable channel. I guess there are a lot of lazy people.