Why seasonal mash-ups are a rip-off

November 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm | In advertising, authenticity, just_so | Comments Off

Yesterday, Sara White tweeted seeing her first Christmas tree in a shop window. She wrote that, coming on so early in the season, it felt like an assault on the eyeballs. I responded that I too intensely dislike marketing’s jump-the-gun approach to flogging “seasonal” wares.

In fact, I really dislike it. (Curmudgeon alert!)

Once upon a time, boys and girls, there was (in the US) this great non-religious always-on-a-Thursday holiday called Thanksgiving, which – pace, ye critics of consumerism – was followed by a Friday that kicked off the official “Holiday Season” (including frenzied shopping, but also – thanks to Martha Stewart – frenzied crafting).

On Thanksgiving Day itself, most stores were closed,  and if you didn’t work in retail, you could look forward to a 4-day weekend because businesses other than retail shut their doors till Monday. While Thanksgiving involved a lot of food preparation (and often travel), which could get hectic, a key point (imo) was that it slowed you down for a brief period. At least it did so for a short spell, before unleashing the concentrated fury, …er, pardon me: excitement, of the December season.

Well, no more.

Not only are most stores open on Thanksgiving, which, in a thankless race to the bottom, they must be to “compete,” but the start of the Holiday Season (ok, let’s call it the Christmas Season) is signaled earlier and earlier.

Some years back when I still lived in Boston, I walked into Lord & Taylor and was confronted by cheap Hallowe’en decorations on one side of the aisle, Christmas do-dads on the other, and a few Thanksgiving centerpieces in …well, the center. Talk about an assault on the eyeballs…

Why is this a rip-off?

The reason these seasonal mash-ups are a rip off is this: they rob you of cadence and of a sense of time.

Sure, our sense of time is likely just some weird construct that’s as artificial as anything else – we all seem to age at different rates, we experience time differently, we’ve all experienced periods when time flew and also others when it seemed to stand still.

So why do I think there’s a cadence – or sense of this likely-fluid thing called time – to which we might want to adhere, at least sometimes? Why not celebrate an 18th birthday when we’re 45, or Christmas in summer, or Thanksgiving in October? The Australians don’t have a problem with Santas on beaches, and Canadians seem to manage with Thanksgiving in October – on a Monday, no less. How do they manage? They pretend it’s Thanksgiving all weekend and just have their “special” meal, like, whenever, man – some do it on Saturday, most on Sunday, a few traditionalists on Monday. It is a seriously boring and disappointing holiday, but American Thanksgiving has gone the same route because of retail pressures: you can’t count on everyone being “free” to celebrate it on Thursday late afternoon anymore.

When we get a big enough group to agree on a time concept, it does make time feel more real, though. Thanksgiving used to be a real time marker: it signaled a brief family time and slowing down, followed by a starting gun for the race to the Holidays. Then, after New Year’s Eve and Day were over, the Season was officially over. If you were Martha, you left for the Bahamas on Dec.26 and came back to the office on Jan.2. (Well, one can dream… And, oh, I plan to celebrate my 18th birthday at the end of next month, heh.)

The freedom to experience time at one’s own pace is great – it’s terrific if you can “do” Thanksgiving on any day of the long weekend! Except it’s not as intense because the tension has gone out of the thing and it feels slack.

But also irritating, because you’re bombarded with a lot of media to “celebrate” the …um, what were we celebrating again? And are we doing it alone or with others?

Well, I posted a “curmudgeon alert” at the outset. Let me know if you think fluid holidays let you dance to your own beat or whether you miss the cadence of fixed Seasons.

The Nivea ad: Is it racist? Yes, it is. And more.

August 19, 2011 at 8:13 pm | In advertising | 1 Comment

Good Magazine‘s associate editor Nona Willis Aronowitz raised excellent questions in her August 18 post, Nivea’s Racist Ad “Re-civilizes” a Black Man. Part of Nivea’s “Look Like You Give A Damn” skin care for men campaign, it’s the only ad that features a black man. It’s also the only one where the added words, “Re-Civilize Yourself,” jump out at the viewer.

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To Nivea‘s credit, the company pulled the ad, seemingly within hours (see the company’s apology on Facebook).

Hang on, let’s re-examine that ad before it slips away…

If the words weren’t inflammatory enough (a black man is admonished to “re-civilize” himself), it’s actually the image itself that’s more profoundly disturbing. How come? And how is it a problem of black and/or white representation?

There is a white man in the same ad campaign:

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If there’s a black guy and a white guy in the campaign, how are they different? Why do I think the black man is shown in unjustifiably (eg., racist) negative terms?

Two ads

Aronowitz’s article references this Facebook page, here, which was updated to show that Nivea had two ads with the “re-civilize yourself” command: one for a black man and one for a white man. While the black man is holding what looks like a head with an Afro hairstyle, the white man holds a head with unkempt “caveman” hair – so perhaps the intention was to show both men with “pre-civilized” styles.

However, an Afro hairstyle is natural to a type of hair (extremely curly) and, unlike a “pre-civilized” caveman look, it’s actually a style choice that’s linked to black pride.

Even if we cut Nivea some slack and say, “Sure, they were just suggesting a caveman look for both, not intending to slag black pride” (which isn’t an unreasonable assumption at all), why are these images still plain wrong?

Images

My answer derives from art history. When I saw Nivea’s ad with the black man, my first association was with a painting by Francisco Goya, Cannibals Savoring Human Remains, painted during a dark period in Goya’s life and in Spain’s history (short Youtube film about Goya here). Cannibalism is arguably a nadir in human behavior – not the sort of thing anyone can make relativistic excuses for. In fairy-tales, cannibalism scares little children. In grown-up media (“entertainment” and news), slasher movies and real-life psychopaths terrorize adult imaginations with the unfathomable darkness of eating human flesh for pleasure.

Goya nailed it with this painting of cannibals, which must be seen as part of a series of images Goya made (including depictions of bandits, rapists, brigands, soldiers, religious Inquisitors, and subjects from mythology) that represent human depravity:

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First, note that these cannibals are white. Depravity knows no “racial” markers. Then, note that the cannibal’s right (raised) hand holds a severed hand, while his left hand, lowered, holds the object featured in Nivea’s ad: a human head.

Goya came to my mind when I saw that ad

Sure, you might say, “You thought of Goya because of your art history training.”

But is that really so? What if Goya merely gave pictorial form to scary stories we somehow are familiar with, whether through fairy-tales or some kind of atavistic osmosis connected to our “pre-civilized” brains?

For me, in other words, the black man in Nivea’s ad was associated with cannibalism. In terms of negative racist allusion, it couldn’t possibly get any worse than that.

It couldn’t possibly get any worse than that …or could it?

So what about the white man, who is also holding a head?

Well, just consider the different physical attitudes expressed by the two men. Both are undeniably handsome and attractive. The black man looks athletic, as though he’s about to throw a discus at the Olympics. In that sense, he looks very classical, a veritable Discobolus.

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But wait!

He’s not going to toss a discus, he’s going to toss a human head.

What’s that all about? Who would toss a human head around as if it were a sports instrument?

Oh, right… A cannibal, maybe?

In other words, there’s a profound disconnect between the man’s pose and the object he’s holding.

Black guys are athletes, white guys stand around and ponder…

As for the white man, his look also suggests a classical pose, albeit a less action-oriented and more cerebration-oriented one. Should we believe that black men are “naturally” athletic, while white men tend toward reasoning? Hmm…

Our white man seems modeled on Michelangelo’s David:

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But hang on! Wouldn’t holding a decapitated head destroy that allusion?

Well, not exactly. Michelangelo’s sculpture shows David as he’s preparing to deliver the fatal blow to Goliath. We may be excused for forgetting that David not only kills Goliath, but also decapitates him.

So, in alluding to David, let’s reference another painter, Caravaggio. His David with the Head of Goliath (below) expresses what might be called an altruistic nobility in killing another person:

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David is profoundly affected, as a reasoning being, by his act. He’s no athlete, no Discobolus, no mere performer. He’s a thinker. His act was violent, but he thinks about it.

Differently?

Violence (or even plain old vehemence) is parsed differently, depending on what skin color you have in mind…

The two decapitations – the white Nivea man’s head and Caravaggio’s head of Goliath – even appear similar, while the black Nivea man’s head has more pronounced tribal mask features …which also depersonalizes it.

The black man is given the pose of a classical Discobolus, but handed a fully inappropriate object (a head) to toss. This actually heightens the taboo (against murder) and strengthens  the allusion to something quite depraved (say, cannibalism for sport or pleasure). The white man is given the pose of a noble, classical actor, David from the Old Testament. His pose is in a style reminiscent of Michelangelo. And he holds the severed head like Caravaggio’s David holds the head of Goliath. There are two very different levels of approach – and, possibly, respect – embodied in the two images.

Yes, the Nivea ad for the black man is disturbing and it’s a multifaceted racial put-down. The ad for the white man, on the other hand, blends in with much of the noble/ superior posing that passes for attention-getting in advertising. Both are cliches.

 

Everything’s a conversation, except when it’s not

November 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm | In advertising, johnson street bridge, politics, victoria | 1 Comment

Social media has penetrated even the most conservative institutions (such as real estate, property development, and municipal politics), and from where I’m sitting right now, it looks as if it’s driving a coffin nail of sorts into what was The Cluetrain‘s seminal insight, markets are conversations. That insight, incidentally, was from 1999.

And now those institutions are partying like it’s 1999, I guess…

The local chapter of an urban development institute sends out its November 2010 newsletter. We read the following:

News

[unnamed urban development institute in unnamed locale] continues to work with local municipalities on issues of interest to the development industry. (…) Our members sit on a variety of committees [locally] either as official [unnamed urban development institute] representatives or as general development representatives. Our members report they are active in many conversations including City of [right here] OCP [Official Community Plan] workshops taking place over the next week or so. This is what makes being part of [unnamed urban development institute] so important. Our members care about the industry and the communities in which we operate.

[unnamed urban development institute - local chapter] has initiated a new policy conversation around potential tax breaks for green buildings. President, T. L., and member, K. J., are actively engaging politicians at all levels across the province in this new [unnamed urban development institute of right here, local chapter's] initiative.

[unnamed urban development institute - local chapter] is opposed to the proposed general downzoning of the [local/ downtown] neighbourhood and continues our conversation with the City about this and other topics related to the draft Core Downtown Plan.

I love this org and I know that “our members care about the industry and the communities in which we operate” is not cant. They do. I don’t mind that they’re focusing on conversations, either (although the word loses its meaning through overuse, don’t you think?).

But next, and on the very same day, someone sends me a link to an article in the local weekly “alt” paper, where the city’s Mayor has published a bit of propaganda aimed at convincing voters to vote a certain way in an upcoming (Nov.20) referendum. And I guess that was enough to make me kinda sick of the conversation meme.

The article’s title, A Bridge for the Future, wants to convince us that we aren’t really stuck in 1999, but are heading into a Brave New World instead. After numerous bromides about the importance of maintaining a strong city economy – so that the City can continue to run the city – the Mayor adds:

This brings me to the current conversation on the Johnson Street Bridge.

Whoa – wait! What has happened with regard to the Johnson Street Bridge has gone way beyond “conversation,” as far as I can tell.

And, as a long-ago participant of sometimes frustrating, sometimes thrilling conversations with the actual authors of The Cluetrain, pardon me if – right now – I’m a tad skeptical hearing this called a conversation. I think I’m smelling snow early in the season instead.

The City of Victoria is spending $150,000 (tax payers’ money) in an ad campaign to convince voters to vote “yes” in the Nov.20 referendum, yet the “no” side, entirely funded by grassroots volunteer time and money, is not even given equal space to advertise its “no” campaign. The City’s “yes” posters are plastered on every on-street pay parking kiosk and the City’s orchestrated “yes” message flashes on the sports arena’s ultra-bright display, but “no” posters (printed at volunteer expense) are to be restricted to the fifty officially sanctioned poles in the city.

For a conversation to make sense, it has to take place on a level field. This is not it. Therefore, it’s not a conversation.

Disaster

August 19, 2010 at 10:06 pm | In advertising, arts, authenticity, brutalism, fashionable_life, ideas, media, style | 1 Comment

Night thoughts about exigency (something I have no time for).

Exigency: An urgent situation …a situation requiring extreme effort or attention. Exigence: demand.

Think child-rearing, perhaps? Think about having hardly any time for yourself, as you prepare yourself to be on constant alert, inbetween the moments that punctuate perpetual vigilance with pure delight? Is it addictive, to live like that? As Perma-Mom or Perma-Dad?

Which brings me to disaster. Why is the idea of disaster so seductive? Is it because it’s over quickly – unlike real life…?

Toward the end of July, NPR’s film critic, Bob Mondello, had an excellent segment, Disasters In Reel Life: It’s About Time (And Suspense). He referred to the “realistic” popular cataclysms dished up by Hollywood, and wondered, “So how come when a real disaster strikes, it feels so different?” One obvious answer is time: in the movies, disaster is fleet of foot (or whatever it is that disasters have, if not exactly feet – legs, maybe?). In real life, on the other hand, there is no suspense to disaster. It’s a drag, not a wild ride.

Then there are the other banal and painful differences: “Disaster movies have characters; real disasters have casualties.” The fictional representations of disaster obey Aristotelian rules about build-ups to climactic events, while real-life disasters mix up that experience. And in disaster movies, you never have to deal with the clean-up…

This might speak to the infatuation with urban apocalypse: it’s a desire to hasten an “end with horror” (versus true – and impossible – reconciliation to the “horror without end”). Check out London After the Apocalypse on Flavorwire: a more nuanced, artistic vision of 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow…? Perhaps we’re to shrink from the oozing decrepitude of Norman Foster’s Gherkin, its normally plump erectitude punctured by what looks like a case of vegetal clap. Maybe we should be awed: when a mighty organ such as this is marred, then it surely is the end.

[An aside, possibly irrelevant: If I had ever met her, I would be able to hear my maternal grandmother's voice say, Besser ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende ("better an end with horror than a horror without end"), a sentiment I always found really alarming and frankly ideologically dangerous (and one my own mother embraced whenever she felt a) depressed or b) manic - like I said, a dangerous idea). But then I didn't live (and die) my grandmother's life.]

In this unholy mix of media manufactured fast-forwarding to The End, we see that ecological disaster also has a special role to play: As Bob Mondello put it, “If the Gulf oil spill were happening in a film, you’d see oil-covered polar bears within hours of the Deepwater Horizon’s demise.” Urban disasters are a long-standing trope that goes back to the early days of Industrialization: both the Romantics and Surrealists liked to imagine man-made forms overtaken once again by nature. There’s something satisfying about seeing chthonic nature assert itself against concrete and human-contrived geometries. It’s also nice to think that nature will win, whereby winning means making human squalor and folly seem irrelevant. Unfortunately, that scenario also means everything else human becomes irrelevant – and that’s not an idea I can endorse.

And so we come to fashion, which has to be one of the highest achievements of humanity. (I’m not being ironic, incidentally.) A recent approach (the oil spill shoot in Vogue Italia’s August 2010 issue by Kristen McMenamy, shot by Steven Meisel) has put the Gulf of Mexico/ Deepwater/ BP oil spill front and center in haute couture. But as refinery29.com wrote, regarding the August Vogue Italia photo spread featuring oil-slicked models on the Gulf:

As beautiful and provocative as they are, we can’t help but feel uneasy. Creating beauty and glamour out of tragedy seems quite fucked up to us, not to mention wasteful and hypocritical, seeing as thousands of dollars of luxury clothing was flown in, and then subsequently ruined for the shoot. Glamorizing this recent ecological and social disaster for the sake of “fashion” reduces the tragic event to nothing more than attention-grabbing newsstand fodder. But that’s just us. Do you think this is appropriate commentary, or just tasteless? (source)

Some of the images (very few) are beautiful – most are provocatively horrifying. They’re not easy to swallow, and you have to look long and hard (which is difficult, given the ugliness of the setting) to find the fashion (be sure to view the 11 images in the slideshow).

Horror without end – the models are posing in the thick of it. End with horror? Not practical. As long as humans are around, we’ll never be without fashion (and fashioning) – how could we be? It’s part of our art – we’ve been fashioning since we got kicked out of Eden. Perhaps the question is, if we can’t be without the horror (can’t stop it without ending), can we shake ourselves out of being used to it?

A bit more on Salim Jiwa’s talk at Social Media Club Victoria

May 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm | In advertising, business, media, newspapers, web | 3 Comments

When Salim Jiwa left his job at the Vancouver Province after a 30-year career in journalism, he didn’t leave his career behind. He instead took the insights he had accumulated – especially in his last years at the Province while heading up its digital media efforts – and started his own online news outlet: Vancouverite.

Last Tuesday (May 25) Salim Jiwa shared his experiences with us at Social Media Club Victoria: I blogged about one aspect of Jiwa’s talk that night (journalism-by-press-release), but Jiwa touched on so many other aspects as well.

First, to recap: “Print media faces extinction,” and the habit of picking up a physical newspaper is gone (or going). By the time a story reaches print, it’s at least 10 hours old, so why bother reading it half a day late? Newspapers used to function on having “exclusivity” (exclusive access to a story, exclusive coverage of a story): this is no more. News-makers (governments, public offices, organizations, businesses) have hired ex-journalists, top of the line pros, who write the organization’s press releases, which are completely press-ready. The journalist who pieces together a story is effectively sidelined: now the “source” writes its own story (huge ethical implications and questions around free press here, too).

At the same time, old-style journalism programs at university continue to prepare journalism students for careers that don’t actually exist anymore. But still they crank ‘em out (this reminded me of the conversation I had with Jon Beasley-Murray in the comments thread to my first post on Northern Voice 2010 – about the immorality of producing “workers” for jobs that are gone).

During the Q&A, I mentioned recently hearing of a New York City-area university program that combines journalism and computer science – and here (courtesy of a memory jog via google) are the details: New dual-degree master’s in journalism & computer science announced at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. See also Wired’s coverage of the new program. It all reminds me a bit of Ryan Sholin’s 2007 advice (10 obvious things about the future of newspapers you need to get through your head) coming to fruition. Take, for example, Sholin’s item #6: Reporters need to do more than write. The new world calls for a new skillset, and you and Mr. Notebook need to make some new friends, like Mr. Microphone and Mr. Point & Shoot. Columbia U is jumping ahead even of this: the program doesn’t just teach journalism students to use Mr. Microphone and Mr. Point-&-Shoot, but is supposed to teach them to write software programs with which to address journalism-specific needs.

At Vancouverite, Jiwa single-handedly does what a traditional newspaper does with four to six people. Must be a lot cheaper to operate, yes? Well, an online outlet is definitely more agile and leaner than a mainstream outlet, but in both instances, the underlying question remains: What’s the business model and can it sustain the operation? Mainstream newspapers have seen ad revenue die away, but making [enough] money to make an online news operation fully viable is also very difficult.

If I understood correctly, the numbers are sobering: even with 25,000 visits (unique page views) per month, the money generated through ads hovers around $500 to $600 monthly. (I’m open to being corrected here – perhaps I completely misunderstood, but if I didn’t, sobering it is.) Udate/edit: I’m way off on my remembered numbers: as Salim notes in a comment to this post, Vancouverite “averages about 80,000 to 120,000 visits per month – not 25,000″ – and, in spite of those numbers, even with “80,000 to 100,000 unique visits per month, click ads can produce less than $200 per month.” Very sobering numbers. /update

During discussion, we briefly touched on the question of hyper-local reporting and selling ad space specifically to local businesses (different than generic google ads), which in turn could generate more revenue. It seems to me there are some significant roadblocks here, though: how much would local businesses be willing to pay for online ads, if they’re already either (1) drawing enough business through established local custom (the “we don’t need to advertise, our customers know where to find us” mentality of successful local niche businesses), or (2) generating enough word-of-mouth traffic through social media (earned media)? If you’re so cool that your customers tweet about you, why should you pay to advertise anywhere?

The funding model seems somehow unmapped: terra incognito.

I’d argue that in both cases (traditional media and new online/ digital media) we’re also talking about making accountability journalism viable (that’s Clay Shirky’s phrase). We know that in print media/ traditional media it’s dying. Where is it going online? I found myself balking a bit at the suggestion that “bloggers” aren’t accountable, although I have to admit that there are a bazillion bloggers out there and obviously not all of them will desire to be “accountable” in a traditionally professional journalistic sense. Add to this another twist: I try to be “accountable,” yet I never consider myself a journalist. I’m a writer, blogger, citizen. When I feel especially fat-headed, I might think, “oh, when I grow up, I want to be a public intellectual – wheeee!” Never a journalist, though.

It’s a bit of the Wild West – or Revolutionary France, before the Thermidor.

Exciting times, no matter what we call ourselves – or what others call us

No policy …no strategy, either

April 27, 2010 at 11:57 pm | In advertising, black_press, facebook, free_press, local_not_global, media, newspapers, social_critique, times_colonist, victoria, web | 13 Comments

Tonight I attended the 14th meeting of Victoria’s Social Media Club to listen to five panelists from Victoria’s mainstream media (MSM) talk about how new media (including social media) is affecting their business.

Panelists included Bryan Capistrano (promotion director for radio station The Zone); Amanda Farrell-Low (arts editor for weekly paper Monday Magazine); Dana Hutchings (producer/ host for “Island 30″ on TV station CHEK News); Sarah Petrescu (reporter and webmaster at daily paper Times-Colonist); and Deborah Wilson (journalist for CBC Radio-Victoria “On The Island”). The panel was moderated by Janis La Couvée.

blog might render photo cropped – click on picture to see original

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The setting was the gymnasium of a former elementary school (now used as the University Canada West campus), hence the …well, gym-like setting.

But the setting wasn’t really the disappointing bit: it was the panelists. They all came across as very sweet people, but I left wondering just what the hell they’re doing.

The panelists (representing local heavy-hitters CBC Radio, Monday Magazine, CHEK News, The Zone Radio, and the Times-Colonist) all stated that their organizations have no specific social media policies in place.

Maybe that’s fine – but what was striking was the absence of clear thinking around social media strategy. The one glimmer of an exception was Dana Hutchings of CHEK. In the summer of 2009, while on vacation in Sweden, she received an email from her boss, letting her know that the owners were about to shut down the station.

CHEK had orders from its owners that forbade the station to report on its own troubles. In his email, Dana’s boss wrote (and I’m paraphrasing): “You’re on Facebook! What can we do?”

First, a brief digression on the history of CHEK News, which is worth knowing: see this wikipedia page for details. In brief: CHEK launched on December 1, 1956, which makes it a venerable local institution. Over the decades, CHEK underwent various changes in ownership, and by 2000 it was owned by Canwest, which happens to be the media conglomerate that owns so much of Canada’s media – including most newspapers, the Times-Colonist among them. Canwest, however, was in deep financial trouble by the middle of the decade, and by late 2009 it had to file for creditor bankruptcy protection. Leading up to this, Canwest tried various downsizing moves to save itself, including pulling the plug on CHEK in August of 2009. But by September 2009, the employees had managed to put together a scheme to buy the station and keep it in operation as an independent in Victoria.

Social media played a huge role in CHEK’s turnaround. Dana Hutchings answered her boss’s question (“You’re on Facebook – what can we do?”) by starting a Save CHEK News fan page, which in turn galvanized the local community who learned about the true goings-on at the station through the Facebook page. Before long, the page had thousands of fans.

The employees at CHEK, spurred by the support they saw pouring in through social media, worked feverishly around the clock for over 46 days, and in the end the station was saved – bought by the employees and contributors.

The point, however, is that without the resonant support from CHEK’s fans – support that would not have found a gathering spot without social media because of Canwest’s gag order on what was happening at CHEK – the employees wouldn’t have been able to muster the energy and enthusiasm to save the station.

But when asked how social media was affecting their business models, the other panelists relied on the old separation between “editorial” and “management” to absolve themselves of any strategic thinking around how the new media might save their old media bacon.

“I don’t know, I’m editorial, that doesn’t concern me,” was the gist of it. The panelists also seemed to think that the new media folks in the audience were trying to find ways to “pitch” to them, the arbiters of media truth. It was laughable.

First, people in the audience weren’t trying to figure out how to “pitch” to the MSM – they were trying to sound out the MSM to find out how they could get it to listen to them, the community.

Second, the panelists repeatedly told the audience that what would work – what they would be willing to retweet or run a story on – would be semi-sensationalist crap, like “there’s a house on fire on X Road,” or “the ferries are running late,” or “it’s snowing on the Malahat.”

Aside from sensational “news” like this, the MSM wants “human interest” stories: “how I found my true love on Twitter,” or, “my child survived bullying on Facebook,” or similar stuff.

This is truly sad. There must be more to MSM than burning buildings and true romance, no?

There were other annoying contradictions, and then also outright delusions. For the latter: the belief that bloggers are just the rumor mill, while the MSM are the arbiters of truth. Hahahaha. If anyone still believes that what is written in the daily paper is the truth, I feel sorry for them – I know for a fact that it isn’t. I know plenty of bloggers who are more assiduous about fact-checking than so-called professional journalists – and bloggers don’t mind correcting themselves. Try getting a newspaper to do that.

At the same time, every single one of the panelists belly-ached about being underfunded and understaffed, which was their main excuse for no longer doing investigative journalism.

Ok, so which is it? You can’t do investigative journalism because you’re understaffed and underfunded? Or you’re the arbiters of truth because only you are the professionals who can get at the truth?

You can’t have it both ways, kids.

While thumping their chests to claim truth-telling status, the panelists also begged “social media” to “spoonfeed” them potential news items (because, remember, they’re underfunded and understaffed and can’t get their own stories – the news are “thin” these days, as one of them put it). In other words, please spoonfeed us, but don’t think you can pitch us.

Are they nuts?

Which is it?

I could go on, but this entry is already costing me dearly in a town where everyone has to play nice and not step on anyone’s toes – and besides, it’s almost midnight and I’m on a deadline here.

Update, April 29: a follow-up post here (also noted in comments).

Mr Softie is still missing, as is Democracy

February 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm | In advertising, guerilla_politics, ideas, local_not_global, politics, scenes_victoria, victoria | 1 Comment

I got a huge kick out of a funny poster that playfully references the ubiquitous “missing cat” notices in my Fairfield neighborhood. (For an earlier note, see Darren Barefoot, who wrote about Mr. Softie, a “heavier set” cat gone missing last year in our ‘hood.)

Today’s poster is truly brilliant. Check it out…

Democracy: lost!

Democracy: lost!

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Just for the record, I’m taking no political sides myself (and yeah, go ahead and hate me for that) – just sayin’ that (aside from the misplaced semi-colon) this is a damn good place-specific political poster that hits all the right notes for this particular neighborhood.

No, no, so sorry: I don’t love it

February 18, 2008 at 2:29 pm | In advertising, facebook | 2 Comments

Quite good, this ad — via IF! from PSFK, a pointer to the Marmite campaign (“you either love it or hate it”), and that Marmite started a Facebook group. So far, it has almost 1400 fans…

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