I was hoping one of my regular blogs would pick up on what I found to be the most interesting story of the week—Keith Olbermann’s “suspension” from MSNBC, which lasted all of two days, for making financial contributions to Democratic congressional candidates. While the posts I highlight in this space tend to focus on social media and public relations, I remain just as interested in the evolution of journalism. After all, it’s an industry that’s been forced to take some sharp turns in recent years as content consumption patterns have shifted so dramatically.
I think moderates, liberals and conservatives alike could share a great chuckle at the notion that anyone would be “surprised” that Olberman supports Democrats. He’s paid handsomely by MSNBC to entertain his audience by railing loudly each evening against the right.
My use of the word “entertain” isn’t meant as a slight, simply a way to differentiate this type of programming. What else is there to call these types of programs? Shows like Olbermann’s (or Bill O’Reilly’s and Glenn Beck’s shows, on the flipside) aren’t really journalistic vehicles. They are the result, in part, of a shift in the way journalism works in the modern era. They are televised blogs, firing off opinions in the most provocative manner possible to draw the largest audience. They are wildly successful. But they aren’t “news.”
The sad truth is, if it ever existed in the first place, truly objective journalism is nearing extinction.
Journalistic Objectivity Bites the Dust – BL Ochman – In response to the Olbermann fiasco, BL Ochman claims that truly objective journalism never really existed anyway, a contention I tend to think is right on the money. Furthermore, attempting to hold the Olbermann’s of the world to the same tenuous standards objectivity may not even be worth the effort. “The publishing of transcripts, e-mail messages and conversations – by journalists and subjects alike – and the ability to search Google and other engines for sources, has empowered those whom blogger and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, calls ‘the people formerly known as the audience.’ Most of us listen to and read only those with whose opinions we agree these days, although that practice helps nobody. But right or wrong, holding journalists to the old-fashioned ideal of objectivity, which was always an illusion, is a waste of time.”
Is Good ROI Worth the “I”? – Todd Defren – I love measurement. You love measurement. Measurement rules! But is it always part of the mix, and should it be? Todd Defren has some excellent examples of why measuring ROI isn’t always possible. And his first reason often boils down to the only reason—money. “Not every marketer has the inclination or budget to invest in measurement. For example, P&G is widely acclaimed for “getting measurement right” via their marketing mix modeling (MMM) approach … but it costs millions to do it right. If the marketer decides to tackle MMM, but does so in a half-assed way, how is that going to be effective?”
The Loneliness of the Crowd – Chris Brogan – Bloggers and social media nerds alike often get the silly insult that they are nothing but a bunch of grown adults “living in their parents’ basement” and never having any real interactions with the outside world. Those of us in the know are well aware that it’s not true, but what about those who really do struggle with getting to know others, particularly at events? Social media events, where many attendees are “regulars” who all know each other, can be intimidating spaces. Chris Brogan has great advice for navigating them with aplomb. “I see lots of people bury their face in their phone as a way to “hide” in a crowd. I’ve done it. You probably have, too. It’s okay to do this a little bit. But don’t lean on it. Don’t make it a crutch. Consider it a condiment and not a meal.”
Getting to Know Your Customers – Shel Holtz – With social media rapidly affecting how customer service teams do business, and companies able to reach their customer base directly on so many different channels, it seems a great time to ask. How well do you know your customers, and how well do your employees know your customers? Shel Holtz promotes the idea of “customer literacy,” and encourages employers to share feedback from customers and promote the notion that anyone at a company can be in the customer service game. “Employees need to know as much about the company’s customers as possible—that is, there is a need for customer literacy. Equally important is the need to curate links to the company’s resources, no matter how scattered between the web and the intranet they may be, so employees can quickly find the right answer.”