Web-based news media attract many users through the ability to choose the topics that interest you, and the political perspective of those feeds. All of which means you get your online news just the way you like it, without any opposing viewpoints or tedious articles on boring subjects.
Of course, now that changing consumption habits compel every major newspaper to simultaneously publish their articles online, traditional editors find themselves in a position similar to traditional ad agencies: proving their mettle in new media while arguing for the viability of their traditional product, in this case–newsprint.
Yesterday, as part of a series on the future of journalism, Charlie Rose interviewed a panel including Robert Thomson, Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal. He set online advocates’ tongues wagging by opining that , “Google devalues everything it touches. Google is great for Google but it’s terrible for content providers.” Mr. Thomson’s issue stems from his contention that Google doesn’t consider the quality of the content around the ads it places, being far more concerned with quantity than quality.
Almost immediately, a hue and cry lit up the blogosphere as the acolytes of new media assembled like torch-wielding villagers, looking to burn Mr. Thomson’s effigy. Their comments expressed histrionic outrage against this guardian of the past, featuring words like “dead trees,” “buggy whips,” and “30% margins.” One respondent considered his attitude to be so quaint, he wondered “do you have a cat?”
Actually, that’s kind of funny, but still, this partisan posturing must stop if we are to move the medium forward. Randall Rothenberg set a great example just days ago, calling for the better creativity this sector has long lacked, forfeiting it to pure technology. Both sides have to stop taking their cues from the idiots of congress, stop pointing fingers across the aisle in kneejerk fashion, and begin looking for ways to connect and cooperate. As I watch agencies like Tribal DDB staff up with traditional creatives, I can’t help but wonder which digital agency will be the first to earn heavy PR for the ‘man bites dog’ story they would exemplify if they were to acquire a traditional agency. And you know it will happen. Because that’s what’s called for with the needs today’s clients want filled: full spectrum, platform agnostic creativity that drives business and builds loyalty. Cooperation is the key to convergence; working together, positively, for the greater good of our clients. That’s a far cry from fingerpointing.
Besides, whenever you do that, you always get three more fingers, pointing back at you.