Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Be yourself – instead of – parroting

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Can’t help wondering why so many people on social media are just parroting others? Copying and pasting. And what’s worse that seems to account for part of what’s called creativity today.

A copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will turn you into Marilyn Monroe. So be yourself.

What happened to creativity?

Have a section of humanity stopped being creative? Or is it just that too many people are lazy and hence just copy others? Don’t they realize that they will not impress the people they are trying to impress? Only ignorant people will buy what the parrots are doing. If you don’t have anything new to contribute, to say a discussion, don’t just re-write what someone else has already said. Coping and pasting from say, Harvard Business Review to make you look intellectual is not a great idea either. What’s wrong with saying that you agree or disagree?

Original ideas

If imitating others were just a social media phenomena it would be one thing. But unfortunately you have an abundance of people selling services online that haven’t got any ideas of their own. They just copy what others have done and charge for doing so. And we should not forget the copy and paste that’s becoming a problem in academia. A prominent European policician was caught having copied and pasted into his thesis.

But a copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will change that. It may work short term but long term it will work against you. The European politician is a good example. He had to step down. Doubt that his future is as bright as it would have been if he hadn’t copied and pasted. Am sure he regrets what he did. But sincerely he should have thought through what he was doing before cheateing. Can’t help wondering if parrots, like him, have really stopped thinking for themselves?

One article I wrote was copied and pasted by a US woman who calls herself an expert on corporate communications. She has her own company and can be hired as a consultant. Sad that she has to steal content for her web site isn’t it?

Hard sell on social media

The amount of parroting on social media most likely boils down to people believing they have to sell themselves aggressively online. Can understand that to some degree. But don’t they understand that it’s obvious to others what they are doing? Am active on social media and almost every day someone re-writes what someone has already written to make it appear to be their new idea. One interesting phenomena are the people who are experts on all issues relating to all countries in the world, regardless of the fact that they have never even visited the countries in question. But copying and pasting they certainly know how to do. Nobody, including myself, knows everything so what’s the point in pretending you do? People only lose respect for you.

Current buzz words leader, expert, entrepreneurial & innovative

The fact that many people believe they have to portray themselves in what they consider to be the right way is a major reason for all the parroting. Wouldn’t it be much better to have an honest look at yourself and decide what your strengths are? If you are not say, innovative, describing yourself so will work against you since you will be found out. Read in The New York Times that 70% of high school graduates in the US believe they have more than average leadership skills. Only 2% considered themselves below average. Truly wish their assessments were correct, but unfortunately 70% of them are not leaders and will never be leading anything. If this applied to the United States only, i.e. approximately 5% of the world’s population, it wouldn’t be too bad. But unfortunately it applies to the remaining 95% of mankind as well.

Use social media to portray the real you

What’s wrong with having talents that are currently not in fashion? Whatever talents you have you can create a lucrative niche for yourself. Why does everyone feel they have to portray themselves as business tycoons? Looking at profiles on social media today you easily get the impression that the majority of people in this world are on par with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It’s normal for children to imitate, but grown ups really should give up that habit.

Social media is a wonderful thing and I have met many fantastic people online, mainly thanks to my blog and Linkedin. If the parrots were just themselves and stopped pretending to be what they are not they would also start reaping positive benefits of social media. To start with they would gain respect. We are all unique and can contribute to society in different ways. That’s the beauty of humanity. Imagine how boring it would be if we were all parroting each other.

Photo: mseckington – Flickr

How politicians are branded & promoted

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Mitt Romney’s campaign wanted the stage for the Republican convention to convey warmth and openness, just like Oprah. Add to that endorsements from a devoted wife, a former Secretary of State and a Hollywood star and his likeability was improved. Watch this really short New York Times video on how it was done:

Does Mitt Romney stand for empathy? And is he the devoted family man his 63 year old wife Ann fondly talks about? Impossible to know for the majority of voters. But that’s what the design studio that also creates sleek sets for Oprah Winfrey succeeded in conveying.

Slick packaging is what it’s all about

Kissing and hugging husband and wife and eye candy the audience can consume. Romney’s advisers carefully scripted and staged the set and program for the Republican National Convention with the aim of accomplishing what a year of campaigning has failed to do and make Mitt Romney appear like God’s gift to America. Even to the extent of embracing his Mormon faith.

According to a Reuters poll taken after the convention his likeability increased, at least temporarily, among US voters. But do this kind of slickness really make the majority of people vote for a candidate? According to the poll so far it has not. Do videos of him playing with his five sons make him the perfect president of the United States? Another odd aspect was that  as a rule people are supportive of members of their family battling diseases. If Mitt Romney had not been he would be an exception to the rule. But considering that US voters did not like him conveying such messages do make sense.

Why Condi?

Associations are part of the branding. Romney hence keeps on mentioning Ronald Reagan to be associated with the still hugely popular former president. George W. Bush however, is rarely mentioned and when he is it’s in relation to tax cuts.

Endorsements are a part of promoting a candidate. But I am not sure why Condoleeza Rice was the only Bush administration official that talked at the convention? Presumably because of all Romney’s foreign policy missteps? But having Cory give a speech is still odd considering that she and Romney have completely different ideas regarding many aspects of foreign policy.

Saying the right things is also important. “A free world is a more peaceful world,” Romney argued at the convention, and added, “This is the bipartisan foreign-policy legacy of Truman and Reagan. And under my presidency we will return to it once again.” Interesting considering that Truman is the only president ever to have used the atomic bomb. Besides I am not sure what those words really mean? But maybe it doesn’t matter since the audience cheered loudly.

Sold just like candy

All politicians world-wide are branded and promoted like a new hair gel or Hollywood star. Romney is just a recent example of the huge amount of money and effort being used to get a politician elected. It goes on all over the world but in the US it’s a bit more showbiz and slick than elsewhere. It’s not a coincidence that Clint Eastwood was a guest star.

Maybe Samuel Popkin, political scientist and author of “The Candidate: What it Takes to Win – and Hold – The White House”, is right when he says that Americans don’t need to love Romney, only be comfortable with him and believe he knows what he is doing.

Will the convention go down in history as the moment Mitt Romney started his march to The White House? A multitude of opinions have been voiced. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, we will find out. If Mitt Romney’s image makers succeed in making people not only like him more but vote for him, he may become the next president of The United States.

Does this kind of branding and promotion really lay out the arguments for why Barack Obama has failed and why Mitt Romney would do better?  Or is it over the top to have Condoleeza Rice state that Romney/Ryan is the answer to  America’s problems? Not least since she and Romney have different stands when it comes to controversial issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Doesn’t it matter that Romney, long after the end of the cold war, still regards Russia as the biggest geopolitical problem facing the US? Do we really want our politicians to be branded and promoted like talk show hosts? Isn’t it dangerous to concentrate on superficial issues instead of what really matters to America and the world? 

Video: The New York Times – You Tube

What’s next for The New York Times?

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Can't help wondering what the future has in store for newspapers? It's telling that even the New York Times are slashing employee benefits and laying off staff. Watch a very interesting interview with investigative journalist Russ Baker putting what's happening at the paper into a broader context: 

How long will the print audience exist? Seems the New York Times is safe since, for the US, predictions are that only four major dailies – The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal – will continue in print form, along with local weeklies

How can newspapers find 90% of their revenues online?

When you look at the newspaper industry you find that they still get 90% of their revenues from ads in the printed paper. 


Online ad revenue is on the rise but still only a fraction of the money papers get from printed ads. One huge problem is that studies have shown that most people ignore online ads. And another is psychological in the sense that people prefer to pay for something they can hold in their hands.


Most online advertising not on news sites


In total more money is spent online but search, engines such as Google ,get much of it and news media has come to accept that they are unlikely to get the kind of revenues, or maybe rather profits, that they get from print advertising. They know they need to find new and smarter ways since ads and subsciptions alone will not work online. For some companies even the experimenting required is a bit of a challenge.


But one notable exception is US magazine publisher,Atlantic Media, who reported last year that its online advertising revenue was higher than for their printed magazines. One reason for that could be that it has lower advertising prices than similar publications. Maybe something that could be developed online as well. Provided it doesn't result in too many ads, since that will turn readers away. 


Enter video


Advertisng on videos online increased with 39% in 2010 and that trend is likely to continue. No wonder most media companies online sport more and more videos. Mainly without advertising though. So that seems to be an area that could be more exploited. No wonder Helsingborgs Dagblad, a profitable Swedish local newspaper is moving heavily into video reporting.


Targeted banner ads one possibility


Targeting the interests of the individual with the "right" ads, like on Facebook is also on the rise. Media here, in theory, has the potential to know what their different readers want and display ads that should appeal to them.


Google CEO Eric Schmidt apparently told the New York Times in 2010 that while his company was built around search advertising their next big business is targeted display. Consequently on January 24th this year Google annonced their new online privacy policies that enable them to use information to target online ads at users more accurately. It's not possible to opt out and the new rules will be implemented on March 1st.


Let's see what happens to advertising on Google after that. Not least since revenue from their "pay per click" ads have declined.


Consumers not keen on online subscriptions


More and more of us are reading news online. But despite that, the majority of people are not prepared to pay more than $5 a month for subscribing to online news. So no matter how we look at it, subscriptions will, as always, be a small part of revenues.


The jury is still out on if paywalls, like for instance the New York Times and the Economist use, will work. But it's unlikely a paywall is a viable alternative for smaller, less famous publications.


Sponsorship actually works for some media companies so that may be another source of revenue. Some online media outlet operate as a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation funded by donations and grants. So we will most likely see more of that as well.


Future journalists freelancing


Unfortunately what just happened to staff at the New York Times is likely to continue for the simple reason that lower advertising revenues means cutting expenses. So in the future most journalists will be independent and work on their own.


It seems to me that the likely way forward are newspapers written mainly by freelance journalists and more news coming to you in video format. And online news may not have to be expensive if you are prepared to accept that newspapers use the information they have on you to target you with the appropriate banner ads.


Very much doubt there will be an outcry from readers about targeted ads. Let's face it, Facebook has been getting away with doing so for a long time, and Google is now going down that route as well. How likely is it that people will suddenly stop using Google and all its services? Can't see why readers would prevent newspapers from doing what Facebook and Google are doing to their privacy?


What's your opinion? How do you see the future of online newspapers? Do you agree with me that video and tageted banner ads will be more prominent in the future? Or do you know better ways for newspapers to make money online? What alternative sources of revenue can you imagine? Print journalism will be around for quite some time since that's still where the money is. But how will newspapers survive – and preferably thrive – once the printing presses stop rolling?


Video: RTAmerica – You Tube

WikiLeaks – what a public relations coup!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

What was new about the “WikiLeak scoop” a few days ago? Anybody following international news have heard about alleged Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan from US officials.

Anybody following international news have heard about alleged Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan from Hillary Clinton and other US officials.

Last week Hillary Clinton actually said there must be someone in the Pakistani government that knows Osama bin Laden’s wheeabouts. Can you get more blunt than that?

So what was the point of making the trove of 90,000 classified military documents public? The only reason they got so much attention was by only released them to The New York Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel. They were no scope and I don’t understand why they caused so much consternation? The only difference they make is that now some Afghans lives are in danger.

WIkiLeaks goal in disclosing secret documents is to reveal “unethical behavior” by governments and corporations. Catch is since it was founded in 2006 it has only been able to disclose secrets from Western countries.

But what about secrets from inside the ISI or Pakistani government? If the 90,000 documents were from inside the ISI they would have been truly sensational. Or if WikiLeaks published classified information from say, the Iranian, North Korean, Russian or Chinese government.

But chances of that ever happen are next to none. Who inside such regimes would dare to take the risk? Pity since that kind of information would make WikiLeaks a worth while organisation. As it is they provide one sided information from the West without being able to deliver information that would really make a difference.

What does WikiLeaks want to accomplish?

Part of me likes what they are doing, but since they will only be able to reveal secrets from the West I don’t think they have a mission to fulfil. At least not if they continue leaking “scoops” that are common knowledge.

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are a bit of a question mark. He says he’s a journalist but according to the New York Times he is not. They call him an activist but to what end isn’t clear. If it is his desire to promote peace I don’t think he has accomplished anything so far.

So what did he accomplish by bringing his organization into the debate on Afghanistan? WikiLeaks had to close some time ago due to lack of funding so presumably the aim was to get sponsors? Or just become famous? Some people go to extremes for fame and glory.

The pr coup he achieved was brilliant. He is now a household name and so is Wikileaks. Just a pity that by showing little regard for the hard moral choices and dearth of good policy options facing decision-makers, he is as reckless and destructive as soldier or soldiers who leaked the documents in the first place.

All WikiLeaks has achieved so far is, putting Afghans who provided leaks to the US in danger as well as – again – show us that technology has diminished our control over what the world knows. So now WikiLeaks needs to step up to the plate and deliver scoops of classified information from inside totalitarian states. That would justify their existence. If not, what can such an organisations accomplish?

(Photo: US Department of State – Flickr)