Advertising, Riots, Twitter, Facebook and the Depression
Curmudgeons skip directly to 7:50 or so, for the juicy bits. If you are in a crowded place, please allow at least 10 feet of safety space in all directions for when your head explodes.
This is the first part of the rather incendiary keynote speech by Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo.com, at the OMMA Hollywood 2009 conference. The keynote’s title is “Advertising, Riots, Twitter, Facebook and the Depression,” and in it, Calacanis cheers the death of newspapers and “Old Media,” and lauds paid search as the “most powerful advertising medium ever created.”
Not coincidentally, Mahalo is a paid search company.
Along the way, Calacanis also trashes social media advertising, showing screenshots of drunken parties to “prove” that all advertising on this platform is unwelcome, intrusive and doomed to die.
“Gosh, newspapers didn’t see this coming, did they? I mean, the newspapers were reporting on their own demise for a decade. And they still couldn’t change it.
It’d be as if you’re the Titanic and you haven’t even left port yet. And they’re like, “By the way, there’s a lot of icebergs to the north.” And you’re like “OK, thanks.” A day later, it’s “Icebergs are still there.”
They’re like, “Full speed ahead! To the icebergs, as quick as possible!”
They did nothing. They deserve to die. Don’t cry for newspapers, it’s great that they go out of business, because new things can take their place that are better. Much better.
Don’t cry for journalism. Rejoice, because a new journalism is being built, today, as we speak. And it’s going to be better than the last one.
“They deserve to go away. Goodby, good riddance.”
The keynote was obviously designed to provoke a reaction (more than one conference attendee muttered “linkbait” after listening), and it certainly did that, as every other session after this opened with the panel trying to refute Calacanis’ claims. I’ll post John Battelle‘s rather more measured keynote tomorrow.
I have a few reactions to this, and I’ll post some more with the other three videos in this series. But to start with, the notion that newspapers did nothing at all about the internet is absolutely false. The industry has tried to engage with online since before there was an internet (you’ve probably all seen those videos from San Francisco, showing the early paper over video screen tech of the 80s). The problem is, that the battlefield on which newspaper have been trying to engage has shifted radically. First, it was the fight between portals – Prodigy vs. CompuServe vs. AOL. Then it was Netscape vs. Internet Explorer. Yahoo vs. Google. Facebook vs. MySpace.
Newspapers are a $50 billion a year industry, with tremendously expensive production and distribution infrastructure, grown up over centuries. If the Tribune chain had just splashed kerosene over the presses back in ’92, and declared in the flickering light that they were shifting every penny over into becoming a competitor to AOL … well, they probably still woulda wound up about where they are. But along the way, there would have been tremendous dislocation – millions of readers not getting information. Millions of readers turning to competitive print products that would have made billions.
So the newspaper industry has tried incremental solutions. Right up to this point, where, as we see in Seattle & Denver (despite what Jason sneers at, there are plenty of people who want to read what he dismisses as “boring” stories about local government, taxation, schools and crime) the papers are being forced to migrate to the web under conditions that are nothing short of brutal.
It’s all very well and good to talk about the exciting news products that are “being built today, as we speak.” But I know many of the people that work at these small, struggling web news outfits. They are up against the wall, just trying to keep the broadband bill paid. They are not going to be able to devote thousands of man-hours to digging through documents and making connections, and going out and doing original research (i.e. interviewing people to get things that are not archived on the magical, all-seeing web). Maybe this will be solved someday – but it ain’t the case today, and that’s when we need it. We need this kind of enterprise reporting, or this country is going to implode, because society is angry at the economic collapse, and nobody’s really been able to dig deep enough to explain it. At least, not in a way that holds up & makes sense for more than a month or so…
If I sound like a bit of a curmudgeon here, well, it’s hard to watch this and not get a bit grouchy. I agree with Jason on the broad points – that Big Media has sinned, and is paying the price; that ad dollars are shifting to where the consumer eyeballs are, and that this trend is only accelerating.
But dude? Less of a gleeful grin.