Category: Storytelling

Real Journalism Is Dying … and It Might Be Your Fault



Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain and owner of more than 250 regional newspapers announced “dismal” earnings for the past quarter and announced another round of layoffs. In response, people have been proposing a lot of solutions, from allowing journalists to unionize to firing or reducing executive pay. Every time I read a story about the uncertain future of journalism, the issue seems more and more complicated. But what if it isn’t?

Here’s the problem: too many intelligent people act as if quality journalism is free.

If you are a reader of this newsletter, you are a smart person. I know you are the sort of person who already understands the value and importance of real journalists. So here’s a question for you: how much journalism do you actually pay for? Are you a paying subscriber to the newspapers and magazines whose stories you share? Do you have a paid digital subscription to the news sites that you read most often? If not, the harsh truth is that you’re part of this problem and contributing to the demise of journalism. But I know you want to do better. 

The solution is easy. Start paying for the journalism you consume. And no, your streaming platform subscriptions don’t count. That is entertainment, not news.

Frederick Douglass and How Photos Will Shape Our Idea History In the Future



“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

Frederick Douglass wrote these words nearly 150 years ago, but hearing them this week as I watched a production of American Prophet playing at Arena Stage, they felt like a surprisingly relevant reminder to speak out for a more just world. Already being described as getting “the Hamilton treatment,” the show takes an iconic figure from American history and brings the age he lived in to life through songs and selected passages from his own writing.

In addition to his central role in helping architect the freeing of enslaved people, Douglass is remembered for his early support of women’s suffrage long before women were granted the right to vote. For me, the most powerful story in the show explored a moment when he posed for a portrait photo and seemed to understand immediately the gravity of that moment and the important role photographs would take in shaping history and countering stereotypes through real images:

“It is evident that the great cheapness, and universality of pictures must exert a powerful though silent influence, upon the ideas and sentiment of present and future generations.”

When it comes to thinking about how photos may be used to understand history decades from now, technology will play a much bigger part. Here’s one example: a (Read more...)

3 Marketing Lessons From The Minions Movie



Last night we got dressed up to see a movie.

To be more specific, my boys and a group of their friends created their own matching yellow t-shirts while I sported a black t-shirt and Gru-scarf to complete our crew. Our dedication was slightly before the full hype started for for the latest installment in the Minions franchise – Minions: The Rise of Gru. This #minionscult fever has led the film to a blockbuster opening and a meme that has overtaken Tik Tok and other social media platforms, filled with people dressing up in formal wear or minions garb to enjoy the film.

The movie is the latest in a string of box office successes leading to a resurgence in movie theater attendance after two long years of depressed sales. For the most part, the movies dominating the 2022 box office list belong to large franchises: Marvel’s latest Spiderman, Thor and Doctor Strange films, the Top Gun sequel, and the Jurassic World sequel. Their successes, though, are likely causing marketers and leaders in all industries to wonder if they can recreate some Minion marketing magic for themselves. To do it, there are a few questions they should consider first:

1. Is the level of effort involved reasonable? One of the reasons movie launches like this generate so much passion is because they only require a momentary commitment. I don’t have to dress up like a minion every day or start writing a minion blog The short term extreme fandom works for (Read more...)

The Evolution of Media: Visualizing a Data-Driven Future


This post is by Jeff Desjardins from Visual Capitalist


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The Evolution of Media: Visualizing a Data-Driven Future

In today’s highly-connected and instantaneous world, we have access to a massive amount of information at our fingertips.

Historically, however, this hasn’t always been the case.

Time travel back just 20 years ago to 2002, and you’d notice the vast majority of people were still waiting on the daily paper or the evening news to help fill the information void.

In fact, for most of 2002, Google was trailing in search engine market share behind Yahoo! and MSN. Meanwhile, early social media incarnations (MySpace, Friendster, etc.) were just starting to come online, and all of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and the iPhone did not yet exist.

The Waves of Media So Far

Every so often, the dominant form of communication is upended by new technological developments and changing societal preferences.

These transitions seem to be happening faster over time, aligning with the accelerated progress of technology.

  • Proto-Media (50,000+ years)
    Humans could only spread their message through human activity. Speech, oral tradition, and manually written text were most common mediums to pass on a message.
  • Analog and Early Digital Media (1430-2004)
    The invention of the printing press, and later the radio, television, and computer unlock powerful forms of one-way and cheap communication to the masses.
  • Connected Media (2004-current)
    The birth of Web 2.0 and social media enables participation and content creation for everyone. One tweet, blog post, (Read more...)

When Success Is Measured In Hate, We All Lose



One thing that right and left wing media personalities have in common: they are both desperate to be hated. Attracting the hate of their ideological opposites has become a sad metric for success. If you’re not pissing someone off, you’re not doing your job. The same mentality has entered into the world of business and entrepreneurship. This ideal of hate-seeking is toxic to our culture, but effective because we are falling for the trick over and over. But who really benefits by keeping us angry all the time?

Magazines Create Empathy That Can Change the World. Here’s How To Save Them.



“The print magazine is an antidote to information overload, a form of media that contains a finite amount of content, releasing readers from the laborious task of deciding what to consume in the limited spaces of time in a day.”

Magazines are my favorite media. I read an ode to the power of the printed word in magazines this week and it reminded me of all the things I love about them. The process of curating this email is a constant battle to avoid overload, and I find that magazines always help. Unlike a lot of online content, the stories and images in magazines are usually professionally produced by real talented editors and creators. The long take they regularly offer is unique and their ability to select and publish stories that are timely without feeling outdated is a constant inspiration for me to try and do the same.

Sadly, many magazines are ceasing operations or moving to an online format only. The good news is, magazine subscriptions remain a steal compared to the cost of other things. So if you’re like some of the people interviewed in the article and have forgotten about the appeal of magazines, maybe now is a good time to restart some of those subscriptions you once had – or find some new ones.

Why We Still Need Conferences and Convention Centers



Convention centers can be beautiful energizing places. They can also be sad lonely reminders of why business travel sometimes sucks. I have spent many hours inside convention centers as a speaker before they became one of the first big casualties of the pandemic. A Businessweek feature this week focused on the collective efforts of architects, city officials and event planners to imagine a richer future for these forgotten convention spaces. The events industry right now is filled with hope, which is fueling multi-million dollar investments. The irony is that hope is also the one thing that these events themselves can bring us.

Gathering the smartest minds in a profession together face to face for future-shifting conversations inspires hope. It is undeniably important. Every time I am invited to an event, I experience this hope. It’s what makes the travel delays, time away from family and long hours worth it. And like the magic of a wonderfully planned and executed convention, hope is one of those things that is really hard to recreate over Zoom.