This must be what they’re talking about when they claim they’re bringing civility back to politics.
There’s a section of this story on how media companies are struggling to make money that I think is important:
After spending millions of dollars to buy digital media companies, online advertising firms and search engines, only a few of the 350 magazine and newspaper companies represented at the conference said, in a show of hands, that they were making more than 3 percent of their sales online.
Combine that with all the chatter about whether or not Google essentially wasted its money in the YouTube acquisition and I think you have a clear picture of the problem. Companies spent tons of cash to buy their way into the online game and they’re now finding it hard to actually make up that money. They felt they had money to burn and did so accordingly. Now they’re finding that, since a news organization’s brand name isn’t exactly a guarantee it will win in head-to-head combat with citizen media, it’s a bit harder to make that money back than they thought it would be. It takes more than that brand name to compete. It takes user relevance and usability, two areas most media publishers need to make dramatic strides in.
- Despite the advice BusinessWeek gives us, I find it best to jump to immediate conclusions and start panicking well before any facts are actually made known about office developments. (CT)
- Simply based on the amount of money it receives from its existing partnership with Google, Comcast is mulling switching to Microsoft’s Live search platform. I can only assume its adopted “honking off users” as a business model. (CT)
- The NFL apparently doesn’t actually know how to exercise its rights under the DMCA correctly. Combine that with YouTube’s shooting first and asking questions later and you have a frustrating user experience. (CT)
- Seems this here internet thing might actually be a way to connect brands (in this case Presidential contenders) with their customer base. Huh. I should look into that. (CT)
- Mike Manuel joins the Social Media Collective. Things with “collective” in their names always are fun to watch. (CT)
- I always tell people that blogs aren’t just for opinion-sharing, that there is some awesome reporting going on there. The LAT covers the work being done by online folks in covering the purge of U.S. Attorney Generals. (CT)
- Jeremy Pepper pointed me to this great post by David Binkowski, all about Twitter’s value. (TB)
According to Chris Campbell at Cinematical, the MPAA at the recent session where it discussed ratings changes and issues, asked studios to stop releasing “unrated” DVDs since they’re marketed as being better than what hit theaters and might encourage people to skip the theatrical release.
If I were with a studio I would respond to this with something along the lines of “Or you’ll what?” Seriously. What’s the incentive for studios to stop doing this – or for that matter for them to stop releasing “Special Editions” about which the same argument could be made – or what’s the penalty if they don’t. These DVD releases are making the studios money that a movie’s theatrical run doesn’t.
Ratings play a large part in whether a movie’s ads will even be run and can play a big role in whether a chain even carries them, to say nothing of whether the audience will see it. That being said, if the theater owners and MPAA think they’re losing market share to “unrated” DVDs, what are they doing to try to get that back other than to hope the problem goes away? Why aren’t they looking at ways to, I don’t know, bring those versions to theaters or something?
The movie exhibition industry keeps wanting to act like a monopoly, where it can just wish all of its competition away and live in its own little fantasy land. The reality, though, is that competition is coming at it from all media fronts, be it DVDs, MP3 players, video games or any of the other 38 consumer options out there.
You can’t expect, no matter what industry you’re in, for the competition to simply lie down and die on you. Studios are trying to get their product to the audience that said audience is asking for. Because of obstacles like ratings, they’re finding DVD as a useful workaround. Find a way to deal with that but don’t ask for our sympathy because you feel like you’re being picked on.
The latest thing to catch the attention of the online audience, in case you haven’t already heard, is Twitter. It’s hard to describe Twitter except to say that it’s basically a chat room for people to tell their friends and contacts what they’re doing at the moment. Very cool, right? It is.
Unfortunately some people have mistaken Twitter for the end-all-be-all of social media instead of just another tool, and a limited one at that. People have begun declaring that their Twitter feeds are more interesting than their blogs, or that they’re going to switch full-time to Twittering instead of blogging. In my estimation this is a signal of not being all that interested in an actual conversation and being more interested in acting as a news bureau.
See Twitter has several characteristics that limit its usefulness as a social media conduit. First of all, each entry only allows for 140 characters. Not exactly space that lends itself to analysis of any sort. Second, it converts long URLs you might want to pass on to TinyURLs to accommodate that character limit. That means while people might be passing on your links, you won’t be able to see how they’re being tracked through Technorati or anything. So if you’re a blogger tracking your URL or a company looking to see how the conversation about them is progressing.
Anyone who’s looking to replace their blogs with their Twitter feeds seems to me like they’re easily distracted by shiny objects and I neither want to be blogging nor driving next to people like that. Twitter is a cool thing and I’m having a kick engaging in the conversation with the people there. But I’d have to post something like 78 updates there in order to convey what I have in this single post doing it two sentences at a time. It’s just a tool, just like blogging is just a tool. It’s the thoughts, opinions and knowledge of the people using those tools that have made them powerful – not the tools themselves. Newspapers could use blogging software but the content still comes from newspapers. It’s when people outside the mainstream use blogging software that the power is embraced.
Twitter should be a conversation tool, one among many. Don’t confuse shiny and slick for all-powerful.
It’s not bad enough that the ratings system, for the most part, stinks. Now NATO and the MPAA have amended the R-rating language so that it has to remind people the content of those movies may not be appropriate for kids. Apparently people felt is was just fine to bring Johnny to R-rated flicks since the recommendation was just that kids had to be accompanied by parents. Then they found that people screwing, fighting and such was not what they wanted Johnny exposed to so, instead of saying, “We screwed up.” they’re blaming the ratings board.
Add to that the fact that advocacy groups now want smoking on screen to earn a movie an R and you have the makings of a system that punishes filmmakers who show sex and smoking but not necessarily violence. This plays in perfectly to the right-wing Republican ideal of the clean-living celibate who acts as God’s mighty sword here on Earth.
Since earning ratings is a major component of a movie’s marketing plan, these changes can have a dramatic impact on how those plans play out.
There’s been an awful lot of discussion lately about the role of professional criticism, especially as it relates to movies. This has been spurred primarily by the success of movies like Norbit and Wild Hogs, movies that were widely panned but then grossed tens of millions of dollars in their opening weekends. This has led to much hand-wringing about how critics just aren’t getting the respect they deserve and what’s the point since people obviously aren’t paying attention.
I really think that critics have been their own worst enemies when it comes to making sure they’re not taken seriously by the general movie-going public. This is because, in large part, they have been playing the game by rules defined by the studios – rules that have been torn down and ignored by online writers and others.
See when a critic sees a movie at a screening three weeks before its opening day, it’s my understanding that he or she agrees not to publish their review until that opening day. Studios insist on this because, quite frankly, they don’t want those pesky opinions to get in the way of their marketing campaign. That last three week period is when the majority of outdoor ads, TV commercials and print ads show up attempting to sway the audience to see a particular movie. So a movie might stink – and the critic will know it stinks – but the rules dictate that he can’t say it stinks in public until the day it opens, by which point the public has already made its viewing plans. So of course no one is basing their movie decisions on the opinions of the critics – those opinions aren’t being voiced until it is, for all intents and purposes, too late.
Online writers have decided this is, to be blunt, an idiotic system and so have leaked reports, screening opinions and more about a movie to the online audience regardless of any studio mandated control measures. That’s why the online audience is often seen as being more discerning and “snooty,” because we’re calling “BS” when we see “BS.” Critics have been hesitant to do this because they’re afraid doing so will cost them they’re seat at the cool kids table, blind to the fact that they’re simply tools in the studio propaganda machine.
Critics can cry about how they are lone voices in the wilderness looking out the general movie going public and trying to convince them to see better movies. But if they were really serious about warning people away from bad movies, they’d make a concerted effort to influence opinions as early as possible to stop people from planning to go see a low-brow comedy weeks before it opens. And if a studio declines to screen a movie to critics, those critics should call the studios out on that.
If you’re not creating a connection with the readership then that readership will begin ignoring you. By sticking to how the studios want the game played, critics have made sure to actively avoid creating that sort of connection, a connection that the audience has then found online. It’s not hard to figure out why these critics are being ignored as they are.