Thursday, March 25, 2010

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Sixty

60. Paparazzi-fy The News.

Newsweek this week has an article about how people have grown to distrust science (making this approximately the umpteenth time Newsweek has taken their story ideas from my blogs -- two weeks ago I did a post on how to tell scientists are just making it up. In fact, twice in their new issue, Newsweek takes their cues from my blogs, because in that same issue they also dote on a book called The Lost Books Of The Odyssey, which I first mentioned when I noted how I was absolutely correct in determining the perfect formula for a best selling book.) (So Newsweek should probably, in the interests of truth-in-advertising, actually be called The Best Of Everything Only Two Weeks Later).

Anyway, one obvious way to tune up the world would be to have Newsweek start to pay me. Another way is, as Number 60 above points out, to "paparazzi-fy" the news.

A big problem for news organizations these days is that they don't really have the ability to make money. All these companies like the New York Times and Newsweek and CBS are in the business, more or less, of reporting news -- but that news frequently gets reported by CBS, which has to pay big bucks to get a reporter to go interview Obama, and then, once CBS reports the news (and pays their reporter), everyone in the world jumps all over it and Googles it and puts on the Huffington Post (which I'm bizarrely proud to say I've never read) and otherwise takes all the value out of, leaving CBS (or the Times, or whoever) holding the bag for the cost of reporting, while you and I get our news from Huffington, or, in my case, from either blogs about celebrities or whatever Dan Patrick happened to mention as an intro that morning.

But celebrity reporting sites don't have that same problem. You never see the same photos of celebrities on various websites, and you don't see exclusive interviews with the Kardashians repeated ad infinitum on all sorts of websites -- at least not until after their value has been diluted because everyone knows it.

Instead, celebrity reporters and gossip columnists and the like get exclusives, paying their interviewees for the rights to run a story on their own, and copyrighting their photos, and then carefully releasing just enough information to whet people's appetites and make them want to go read the story. (And they jealously guard those rights, too: If you want to see how jealously, republish a paparazzi's celebrity photo.)

So here's what "real" news outlets should do: the same thing. If you want to interview someone, guarantee that it's an exclusive and pay for it -- and then make sure that nobody else uses your information until you get the value out of it. Got a video chat with the president? An interview? Have the president guarantee it as an exclusive.

And if he won't? Then wait until someone else reports it, and then use that as your own information, since it obviously wasn't guaranteed an exclusive. That's what I'd do if I was a news executive: I'd let CBS hire all the reporters and then just watch what they report, and put that out myself, while marshalling my resources to get exclusives, only.

Eventually, other news gatherers would tire of paying to gather news for me, and would either quit hiring reporters entirely or would, themselves, demand exclusives.

If they quit hiring reporters, then the news-generators would have to somehow get the news out to the public themselves -- maybe through email campaigns and websites and press releases like the White House used during the health care push, emailing bloggers and encouraging them to re-post items -- or they'd have to cave in and start guaranteeing exclusives to make it worth someone's while to pay a reporter to interview that person.

The photo on this entry, by the way, is from GQ -- but was downloaded from the CBS News website. GQ had an exclusive with Rielle Hunter, and then CBS provided GQ with some free publicity for their interview with a woman who brought down a presidential candidate.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Claudius wanted to be the first man to reach the stars... but it was murder to get there. Read
Eclipse, the haunting sci-fi book from Briane Pagel. Available at and on your Kindle.


1 comment:

abitosunshine said...

I followed your Gather post link to your blog..:-)

I like your comment/book giveaway idea, count me in! I'd also like to know if I can borrow that idea for my blog...