Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Elwin 3.0, Day One

Coming to the end of my first day as an ex-employee of the Post-Gazette. I have a long list of projects to do, but not much of a schedule. The only fixed element so far is spending 3-4 hours a day hanging out online with stock traders, to learn from them.

I received the new issue of Fortune magazine today. It contains an article about Conan O'Brien's largely accidental transformation from late-night talk show host to multimedia brand. The title, "Conan 2.0," makes me smile, because I have thought of the phase of life that I am now entering as the time of Elwin 3.0.

Beyond that, it gives me much to think about as I build my media empire. This paragraph by itself feels to me like a mini-seminar:

Team Coco (O'Brien's company), not TBS, chooses which clips to use, edits them, and posts them. Preview clips from each night's taping go up an hour before the show's East Coast broadcast; within an hour after the show's West Coast broadcast more than a half-dozen clips from that night's show are posted on its site and Facebook, and linked to via Twitter; and the full show is viewable online the day after at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Last year at The Tonight Show Bleyaert (staffer Aaron Bleyaert) had tried to get pre-show clips posted, but even that seemingly simple idea was difficult to execute because NBC.com ran the show's site, and putting up such clips wasn't part of its normal workflow process. "After the experience that we had at NBC, we wanted to be in control," says O'Brien's agent, (Rick) Rosen. "We wanted the freedom to exploit our content."

Two things jump out at me: the fact that NBC made posting clips difficult because it "wasn't part of its normal workflow process," and Rosen's quote at the end, "We wanted the freedom to exploit our content."

That paragraph made me think about journalism, and specifically about newspapers, which are still challenged to develop workflow processes that suit today's world, and which still largely deny journalists the freedom to exploit their content.

But then, journalists are not exactly battering down the doors to demand the freedom to exploit their content. I fear that most of us have never even considered the idea of exploiting our content. In that regard we are being no smarter than the Huffington Post contributors who feel screwed by the AOL deal. While part of me shares their moral outrage, another part of me is compelled to ask, "Did you not know that you were creating value? Did you not consider the possibility that eventually somebody would get paid?"

Do journalists consider the possibility that their content could have value beyond the final edition? That it could generate money beyond the paycheck?
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