Monday, August 4, 2008

Civility

Hey everyone,

I've found all the different conversations and questions that have been shared here really interesting. We've had some of the Sentinel's management visit the blog, we've had direct responses from them. I think that the sharing of these different viewpoints has been healthy. Despite, there being people out there who would like nothing more than to put a gag on our not-so-sweet opinions about the current state of the Orlando Sentinel... we are being heard.

But, I do want to stress that we make sure the words that are being heard from us are not slander. In the past few days, some people have simply gotten down and dirty, not just harsh but vulgar with their words. We've had people name calling, bickering and making personal attacks on people who aren't even in charge. When, some people on here do things like this it makes everyone look bad, it makes us all look like vengeful, venom spitting people. It makes us look no better the people than the people who've been pulling politics at the Orlando Sentinel. It gives people a reason to write the opinions here off as just a bitter minority.

And the worst thing about just being plain nasty to each other is that it in no way contributes to the goal of the blog. The idea is that we want to have good newspaper in Orlando and we do not feel that the current product of the Orlando Sentinel is giving us that. We are supposed to talking about our frustration with the current product Orlando Sentinel, expressing what we want from the paper, and calling out the Sentinel's management (and parent company) on poor choices made for the paper.

That said we want you to express your opinions on the current product of Orlando Sentinel, but let's try to keep things on topic and most of all- civil.

Thanks,
Kai

Now for your own personal amusement (or sorrow) a few "interesting" words from Lee Abrams:

AUGUST 04, 2008
THINK PIECE: THOUGHTS ON THE REINVENTION AND WHY WE WILL PREVAIL
THINK PIECE: THOUGHTS ON THE REINVENTION AND WHY WE WILL PREVAIL

Activity is continuing on the newspaper reinvent front, and some interesting creative developments on the TV side. A few thoughts:

LOLLAPALLOZA IN CHICAGO: The Chicago Tribune did a spectacular job with the Lollapalooza festival over the weekend in Chicago. Highlights included:

*Great PRE-SELL. Instead of an after the fact report, they were all over it BEFORE it happened so readers could have a full overview beforehand so it's actual usable information instead of a backwards looking "review".

*Visibility. It wasn't hidden. It hit you like a 2x4.

With that said, it posed a few questions/thoughts;

*No doubt the Tribune had to cover an event of this magnitude, but I think papers need to have the same PRE-EVENT attitude toward the other mainstream musical events. Lollapalooza is a bit young skewing in light of our "natural" target that is more 40+.

--Never before has there been a more powerful 40+ music consumer. In fact, that’s where the money is. Check the top grossing concerts on 2007.

TOP CONCERTS
1. Hannah Montana
2. The Police
3. CĂ©line Dion
4. Kenny Chesney
5. Van Halen
6. Bruce Springsteen
7. Jimmy Buffett
8. Bon Jovi
9. Faith Hill & Tim McGraw
10. Dave Matthews Band

...almost exclusively older skewing. Hannah Montana isn't, but the average attendee was 9 so you could say that parents were a pretty key factor here.

My point is that newspapers need to get as excited about Kenney Chesney or Van Halen as they do about the interesting alternative bands...or opera. It's that un-sexy, non adventurous middle ground that NEEDS newspapers to make decisions and learn BEFORE the event. As powerful as the web is, newspapers are still the medium of choice for A LOT of these huge artists and it's in our best interest to give the readers the information, as newspapers do best, BEFORE the fact. And, historically, the music people embrace during their "musically formative years" of 16-20 is what they like for life. Sure, there are musically sophisticated people who continue to grow, but MOST people live for the music from these years...and you aren't going to change them. Take a 90 year old---you can bet that his Hip Hop was Big Band...That's a reason Hip Hop will never die---it's establishing itself to 16-20 year olds...and it will be their music for life. If we are targeting 40+, embrace THEIR musical generation which is still VERY active!

Prior to joining Tribune, I talked to 8 or 9 major artist managers and newspapers are pretty much off their radar. We need to put it back on. Not hard to do.

SPEAKING OF BEFORE THE FACT: A lot of discussion about News Forecasts. A vehicle to be more than yesterday’s news. For example--On Monday (or every day) giving readers a five day forecast. Accuweather and the Weather Channel don’t have an exclusive on this. We can be MORE than yesterday. We can be NOW and tomorrow IF we pull out the 2x4 and give some high visibility to what is COMING.Many papers say they do that already, and they do, but it's SO subtle, it’s an afterthought instead of a "trademark" that is SO visible; it becomes a noticeable and reliable feature.

REPORTERS OR PERSONAITIES: TV has anchors...The internet has bloggers...radio has morning shows. Maybe newspapers need more personalities too. I think it’s in our best interest to SELL our reporters are personalities. If we don’t--no one will do it for us. Personalities are critical in today’s media puzzle. We NEED more than names...we need characters and ...personalities.

THE SACRED NEWSPAPER LOGO: Debate at a few papers about the sacred logo. I wonder why Coke or Google can maintain their logo but get inventive with its treatment, but newspapers are afraid to touch it with interesting treatments. I'm not saying goof around with it, but if Derek Jeter can use a pink bat to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d think a newspaper can get off the tired "sacred" thing and think along those same lines.

MORE ON WEB BRANDING: Some amazing reinvents going on (I call it reinvent because redesign is something that papers seem to do periodically, and this is MUCH bigger than that), but often the Website remains "For more go to....").

The problem is that we are SO generic in a very specific and competitive space. "For More Go to paper.com" kind of approach. Whereas, our site is:

*An AMAZING collection on information...video, audio, stats, maps, what to eat, what NOT to eat (health inspections), movies, music, hell---EVERYTHING!

*Probably perceived as a "newspaper website" (yawn).

In fact, it's a dynamic and exciting experience that is A KEY PART of the NEW perception we want to create about the newspapers' BRAND!

So, as a place holder/thought starter, there's "THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS"---...but the point is that whatever we use, it should be something that is a powerful, positive, non cheesy statement that DEFINES what to expect when you click to ct.com.

Things like "Breaking News and More" or 'Go to' are WAY WAY too generic to push people to our site and equally important--to enhance our image as a very exciting and modern BRAND.

Q&A: Got asked a bunch of questions about newspapers and the future. Thought I'd shares some thoughts:

1. What specifically are the traditions/habits of newspapers that you think need to change and why? (I’ve got most of what I think you think on this in general. Assumptions, compartmentalization, competitiveness, etc.) But . . . A few more specifics would be helpful. . .

IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE ABILITY TO LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PAST. RESPECT IT, BUT THINK TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN TERMS OF NOW. IT'S A HARD THING TO DO...BUT CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. IT DOESN’T MEAN THROWING OUT THE PAST...IT'S JUST A WAY OF THINKING. CALL IT CULTURE OR WHATEVER, IT’S THE ABILITY AND WILL TO WITH GREAT FOCUS, CONCERTRATE ON WHAT IT TAKES TO ENGAGE READERS ...NOW….AND TO THINK COMPETITIVELY. REALLY COMPETITIVELY. TAKE OUR STRENGTHS…AND DELIVER THEM BETTER THAN WE EVER HAVE, IN A WAY THAT CUTS THROUGH, IS NOTICABLE, AND BRINGS THINGS THAT NEWSPAPERS DO BEST TO THE FOREGROUND.What is at the heart of it? Is it that papers shouldn’t try to do everything? Do less but do those things better in terms of coverage and resources? With space and personnel cutbacks, hard choices will have to be made. Where do we go?

YES, UNLIKE THE PAST, THERE ARE MANY, MANY MORE OPTIONS FOR PEOPLE TO GET THEIR NEWS AND WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON OUR STRENGTHS TO RECLAIM GROUND. IT DOES MEAN DOING FEWER THINGS UNQUESTONABLY BETTER. NEWSPAPERS OFTEN SUFFER FROM BEING VERY GENERIC IN A SPECIFICITY DRIVEN MEDIA ENVIRONMENT. ONE OF THE REASONS IM SO FOCUSED ON THE GRAPHIC ELEMENT AND THE INTELLECT. NEWSPAPERS OWN THOSE, WE NEED TO PUSH THESE ATTRIBUTES OUT BETTER.
2. Would you close foreign bureaus or fight to keep them open?

IT'S NOT MY CALL BUT I THINK A GLOBAL PRESENCE IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR FUTURE. LOCAL IS KING BUT WE NEEDED TO BE "COMPLETE".
3. Do any of the changes you want most and first touch on the journalism at the Trib papers? Do you see a lot of stuff in the papers that doesn’t belong?

I THINK THE JOURNALISM IS GENERALLY OUTSTANDING, THOUGH I THINK DOING MORE WITH MORE IMPORTANT STORIES AT THE EXPENSE OF MARGINALLY INTERESTING ONES IS A REALITY. LIKE TV, WHERE THERE'S LIMITED TIME AND YOU NEED TO HIT HOT BUTTONS STORY AFTER STORY, THE NEW REALITY OF NEWSPAPERS IS LIMITED SPACE SO THE SAME PRINCIPALS APPLY
4. What do you think the societal value is of newspapers? You told me you’re a big fan of newspapers. What are you a fan of? When we spoke you said to my question about the role of newspapers “the same as it always was,” but could you please jot down a sentence or two about that. Newspapers have traditionally functioned as way of keeping citizens informed about their government and their world. They entertain. They sometimes take an active role in politics, as in Watergate. The constitution guarantees the right of a free press. It’s important, right? Could you give me a couple of lines on this?

TO ME THE NEWSPAPER IS PART OF THE LIFE EXPERIENCE. AN INTELLIGENT LOOK AT THE COMMUNITY AND WORLD THAT YOU CAN ABSORB AT YOUR OWN PACE AS WELL AS A PLACE TO FIND INFORMATION THAT APPEALS TO YOU. IM A BASEBALL FAN AND NOT ONLY SEING THE STATS, BUT GETTING THE INSIDE INFORMATION FROM REPORTERS THAT COVER MY TEAMS IS PRETTY IMPORTANT TO MY DAY. INVSTIGATIVE REPORTING HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT AS THE WORLD IS OFTEN A GREEDY, CORRUPT AND DANGEROUS PLACE. WE'RE NOT ALONE AS BLOGGERS, TV AND OTHER MEDIA ARE ALSO INVESTIGATING, BUT HISTORICALLY PAPERS HAVE DONE THE BEST AND MOST CREDIBLE JOB AND I THINK CONTINUING TO DO SO IS KEY TO THE FUTURE.
5. Last one: The cutbacks and shrinking ambitions of the Trib papers must be having a direct impact on the quality ofthe product you are trying to repackage and sell to readers. How do you deal with that? How does it figure into what he is doing?

QUALITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER. WE CAN’T LET THE QUALITY SLIP...IT NEEDS TO GROW. IT'S TRICKY BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMIC REALITIES, BUT I AM CONFIDENT THAT AS PAINFUL AS IT IS TO DOWNSIZE, WE WILL INCREASE THE QUALITY OF THE PAPERS. WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THAT AND WE WILL. IT REMINDS ME OF XM WHERE WE COULD ONLY AFFORD TO STAFF A CHANNEL THAT NORMALLY WOULD HAVE TEN OR MORE EMPLOYEES WITH ONE OR TWO. IT TOOK SOME RADICAL RETHINKING AND DESPITE A LOT OF NAYSAYERS, WE DID IT. THE QUALITY WAS SUPERIOR TO THE LARGE STAFF STATIONS BY ISOLATING THE BEST POSSBLE PEOPLE, RE-THINKING HOW A STATION IS OPERATED, AND THROWING OUT THE OLD OPERATIONAL PLAYBOOK AND BUILDING A NEW ONE THAT TOOK THE ECONOMICS OF OUR BUSINESS INTO PLAY. NEWSPAPERS ARE QUITE DIFFERENT FROM XM OF COURSE, BUT THERE ARE SCORES OF OTHER EXAMPLES WHERE DOWNSIZING DOESN’T NEGATIVELY AFFECT QUALITY. IF YOUR JOB IS AT RISK, THAT IS NOT A CONVINCING ARGUMENT, BUT EMOTIONS ASIDE, IT IS DOABLE.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THINKING DIFFERENTLY: If you think Newspapers are in a difficult state, try the record Industry. You know there's a problem when it's still called the "record" industry but records hardly exist. Along comes Steve Jobs with the I-pod thing. If you think WE are getting nuked by the pundits, this guy was getting it World War Three style from the "what does this geek know about OUR business." I don't think he cared too much about what THEY thought.
Posted by Lee at 08:08 AM

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This asshat is worse than Castro, who was also given to makng excruciatingly long speeches.

Nancy Imperiale said...

PEOPLE WHO USE ALL CAPS ONLINE ARE INCONSIDERATE DOLTS WHO really DON'T GET IT.

This Lee Abrams is a real hoo-hah. He has no idea what he's gotten himself into. But none of them do. The new blood in Tribune Tower is even more clueless than the old.

Ding dong, the newspaper's dead. These guys are just cleaning off the carcass. Sam Zell and his ilk truly will never be anything more than gravedancers. They don't have the smarts to rejuvenate jack.

Sad.