This Day In Newspapers And Their Pointless Journalistic Endeavors

Print media: It's totally dying! And what can be done about it? The moment seems to call for a re-arrangement of journalistic priorities in the service of providing readers with the sort of vital reporting that only newspapers can provide. But, instead, it seems like the New York Times and the Washington Post are going to give the building up of superfluous infrastructure and launching pointless pundit initiatives a try.

The news this week from the New York Times is that they are tired of missing out on all the neat controversies that political blogs have been dredging up, like the whole ACORN fooferaw! So, the higher ups have decided that they will take an extreme corrective measure and "assign an editor to monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies." That means some lucky employee at the New York Times is about to be handed the easiest assignment in all of journalism. Here's how you do it: BOOKMARK MEMEORANDUM. That's it. If you want to make it a little harder, you could assign an intern to sift through an RSS feed. You could even make use of an online news aggregator, like the one the New York Times doesn't seem to remember it owns.

Nevertheless, while the needfulness on display makes the New York Times look sort of dotty, the monitoring of blogs at least fulfills a need. Knowing that blogger Marcy Wheeler had written about the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah spared their own reporters from having to "read documents" and "develop an understanding of an issue" themselves. But, ask yourself, is there really a need for new pundits, other than a last resort source of fuel in a post-peak oil apocalypse? Surely not! But don't tell the Washington Post! They've planned a whole contest around the search for America's Next Top Blitherer.

Aspiring opinion-havers are invited by the Post to submit "a short opinion essay (400 words or less) pegged to a topic in the news and an additional paragraph (100 words or less) on yourself and why you should win" between now and October 21. Ten finalists will be chosen, and, starting "on or about" All Hallow's Eve, will be asked to perform various feats of punditry and be judged by "a panel of Post personalities" who "will offer kudos and catcalls." After the contest, that panel will return to the special room in Hell that has been reserved for me, and wait.

There are no details on what silly little reality show tasks the contestants will have to endure, but I suspect they will include:

--Write an essay, "Just How Badly Do You Think You Deserve A Medal For Being Wrong On The Iraq War."
--How supine and passive can you be in the face of Fred Hiatt's desire to mislead on climate change?
--Can you outdo Charlotte Allen in the production of intellectual excrement? How about actual excrement?
--Do you know any high-powered lobbyists, that you can introduce Marcus Brauchli to?

The winner will receive "the opportunity to write a weekly column that may appear in the print and/or online editions of The Washington Post, paid at a rate of $200 per column, for a total of 13 weeks and $2,600." Of what benefit will this be to readers, other than the opportunity to see Dana Milbank on the judge's panel tell loser contestants, "You just got DICKWHISPERED?" That, I cannot say. Perhaps, though, this contest will afford the Post the opportunity to add a voice to a roster of columnists that often get criticized for their lack of balance, thus providing a differing point-of-view for--OH WOW, I cannot even take that idea seriously enough to finish the sentence.

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Do The French Actually Even Want Roman Polanski Back?

polanski517Plenty of debate in the old blogosphere this week over Roman Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland this weekend and whether he should be returned to the U.S. to face trial for raping a 13 year old girl in 1977. You can find a solid roundup here.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s arrest took most of the world by surprise and much was made in the American papers about how dearly the French loved and supported Polanski, especially their government!

Culture minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was “dumbfounded” by the arrest and “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them,” President Sarkozy wants him released as quickly as possible. Oh those French and their ideas!

Not so fast! According to the New York Times the French public may not actually be so hot on Polanski’s freedom.

The mood was even more hostile in blogs and e-mails to newspapers and news magazines. Of the 30,000 participants in an online poll by the French daily Le Figaro, more than 70 percent said Mr. Polanski, 76, should face justice. And in the magazine Le Point, more than 400 letter writers were almost universal in their disdain for Mr. Polanski.

Sounds less like the French “desire” Polanski at the moment and more like they are just as split on what should happen to the Oscar-winning director as the rest of the world.

Eric Shutt: Ad Experts Offer Social Media Tips at NYC’s Advertising Week

Under the thematic banner of "Fueling Interactive Advertising's Creative Revolution," the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) convened top talent for NYC's Advertising Week "to articulate their visions for unleashing the full power of digital media."

If it comes as no surprise to industry insiders, presenters at IAB's MIXX Expo confirmed that the vision of advertising's future is now squarely focused on social media.


"Today we need to find an audience, entertain them, and measure them," said Steve Wax of Campfire -- an agency that later won 4 IAB interactive advertising awards. "We have to stop making old things in new places ... we have to stop thinking only [return on investment] and be historic," said Colleen DeCourcy, Chief Digital Officer of TBWA Worldwide.

Click to view a photo set of presenters and information slides from MIXX.

Three key themes emerged from presenters at MIXX about the new trends in media: Content, Interaction, and Measurement. From obstacles to end products and a five-point bet by AOL's CEO -- here's what some of advertising's top insiders had to say:

Toadstool's Alan Wolk sees six common obstacles to social media success.

1. Luddites: Those who still think social media is a fad.

2. Magpies: People who believe any social media effort will work.
3. Lawyers: Those who require too much process for approving social media content.
4. Hogs: Staff who won't provide cross-departmental content to repackage for the web.
5. Misers: Those who think social media is free.
6. Lousy products: Transparency in social media exposes user dissatisfaction with poor products.

Senior Microsoft VP Yusuf Mehdi offers 5 lessons for success on the social web.

1. Be opportunistic and responsive: Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to a million Twitter followers by seizing the chance to be the first, and actively engaging with his audience.

2. Authenticity: The million dollar home page worked when its purpose was authentic -- to raise money for a student's college tuition. When it was redone to raise money for the student himself, it flopped.
3. Relentlessly measure and optimize metrics: Zappos built its new brand and sold over 400,000,000 pairs of shoes by capitalizing on search marketing that relied on interest in previously established brands to drive sales on the Zappos website.
4. Be social: Starbucks' My Starbucks Idea effectively engages Starbucks' customer community in a direct conversation with the brand.
5. Ads are content: Burger King has seen incredible marketing success by turning content into commercials -- like the Whopper Freak Out videos, and the infamous Whopper Facebook Friend sacrifice.


Proctor & Gamble Digital Business Strategist Lucas Watson has four-part advice on getting great creative content.

1. Have an ideal and an idea: "When advertising is driven by a higher calling -- a higher sense of purpose -- that's consistent with the brand's equity, we get amazing returns in creative," said Watson.

2. Use the land you're given: Context matters. "Ads are viewed in the context that the creative is delivered," Watson says -- not as stand-alone elements.
3. Creativity can come from anywhere: 30,000 submissions from 108 countries were received by Hugo Boss for their new cologne advertising campaign. The winner was an 18 year old from Thailand.
4. Keep it simple: Pringles recent online ad campaign deliberately featured a stripped-down, simple graphic layout to keep the focus of the ad.


Casale Media's Scott Steiner showed the do-s and don't-s of online demographic targeting.

1. Don't use census based demographic targeting. Zip code targeting is an imperfect science, and geographic demographics move too quickly to measure for digital advertising. Plus, it's impractical as it doesn't target sub-groups within geographic areas -- making it impossible to target based on gender, or reach minority groups within a specific location.

2. Don't use offline studies to predict online interest. The time required to process data and apply it to online advertising takes too long given rapid shifts in the online marketplace.
3. Casale's system is "smoothed sight-level demographic intelligence." A rolling 3 month window of a specific website's use statistics gives an accurate view of overall trends in user behavior. The method uses real, up-to-date info unique to a specific website. The data matches actual user behavior, not how users might act.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong sums it up with a five-point bet he's willing to wager the company on.

1. The recession has created large white space for advertising on the web.

2. Users are allowing distribution to become more targeted. Sites like Facebook and Hulu allow users to choose, rate, and even reject on-screen advertising.
3. Content always trails distribution. Creating good outlets for distribution will attract quality content to follow.
4. Future content brands start now.
5. Content management systems are the new ad systems.


Yahoo Makes Ads on a Bit More Like TV

NEW YORK ( -- Subscribers to Major League Baseball's online service are getting something different this season during games: as many as four times the ads. Yahoo has a contract to sell ads on through the 2010 season and as of August it started selling a lot more ads thanks to ad-serving technology from Auditude, which allows Yahoo to sell multiple ads within commercial breaks, just like TV.

Who’s To Blame For The “Kill Obama” Poll On Facebook?

tp-facebook-306-2560522What’s scarier: A Facebook poll asking people if President Barack Obama should be killed (with the response options: “yes”, “maybe”, “if he cuts my health care”, and “no”), or the fact that over 730 people voted?

The offensive poll, which was hosted by a third party “Facebook Poll Application”, was removed the day after it appeared on mini-feeds across the land, followed up by the creator of the application posting these facts about himself along with an open-ended Q&A in an effort to tame the beast, so to speak.

The facts, which include that he has been an “Obama supporter for a long time,” also reiterate the idea that Facebook should not have any blame in the ordeal, but rather that it was simply the medium through which he created the polling application.

An idea echoed throughout the political blogosphere in a time when even the death of an iconic American like Senator Ted Kennedy can trigger vicious commenter backlash like “Hells awaiting”, the concept of respect on the Internet is called into question.

And while some in the media like to believe that it’s the actual websites who are spewing the hate, is it really the backwards hateful (KKK-esque) agendas of these website/blogs? Or is it something far scarier than that: the actual users?

Like Jose Antonio Vargas posted on the Huffington Post yesterday, “All the Internet does is reflect–and amplify –human behavior.”

It’s a frightening thought but as Media Matters pointed out after the O’Reilly/ Daily Kos debacle over the death of White House press secretary, Tony Snow, it was the comments which were hate filled, not the content.

So as the “user problem” grows, will it just further the generational divide between those familiar with unfettered interactive communications and those who aren’t? Or is it possible to find a happy medium for these mediums?

Disgrasian: The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute Reveals 2010 Calendar, Believes Liberal Women “Look Like Men”

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute will release its fifth annual calendar this week, celebrating 2010's "Great American Conservative Women." Unlike last year's "Pretty in Mink" calendar, this one is decidedly more recession-friendly, depicting all 12 women in white shirts and soft lighting.

As for the name of the 2010 calendar, I can only conclude it references the following:

"Great" as in hyperbole, as when calendar girl Michelle Malkin claimed an anti-Obama protest that took place in DC this month was attended by two million people, instead of the 70,000 estimated by the fire department.

"American" as in the opposite of "un-American," an accusation Miss November Michelle Bachmann leveled at Barack Obama--and certain members of Congress--during his campaign.

And "Conservative" as in gay-hating and other civil rights-denying values, a mission newest calendar addition, Carrie Prejean, Miss October, claims God chose her to carry out.

In an attempt to counter the great Greatness, the American American-ness, and the Conservative Hatey-ness of this calendar, HuffPo is putting together a "Great American Liberal Women" Calendar of its own.

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute's official Facebook Fan Page seems dubious about this counterpunch, however, judging by the wall post they put up on Monday at 1:04 pm:

Yes, it does in fact read: "The Huffington Post is trying to make a "Great American LIBERAL Women" calendar. This might be difficult considering their women look like men *cough*rachelmaddow*cough*."

Stay classy, you great women, you.

[The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute]
[FOX News: "Great American Conservative Women" Calendar PICS]
[The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute Facebook Fan Page]