Define your own filters

There’s not much that hasn’t already been said about the findings from Pew on how young people are getting their news not so much directly from the source but from friends – through the filters of email, social networks and other tools. But with a few days perspective and the appearance of other stories that offer additional insights into similar stories a fuller picture can be painted of the latest water-line we’ve reached in the evolution of news and community.

Take for instance the increased focus on creating “appealing content” by journalists in the recent PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey. Add to that the 73 percent that now say they turn to blogs as part of their research efforts. Even if it is just to “measure sentiment” that’s a significant number of writers that new touch base with social media outlets in order to get a sense of what’s being said on a topic as they’re writing their own stories. And add to that the fact that more journalists are being tasked with re-purpose their stuff for online and you get a feeling that, even if the corporations they work for aren’t quite sure of where they need to go, the men and women in the trenches know exactly what they need to survive as both employees and media brands.

One group of writers that won’t be working harder are movie critics, an industry that continues to be decimated by cutbacks as movie conversations shift to blogs and fan sites. While there is a bit of a case to be made that the loss of professional critics will hurt smaller movies that need critical praise to survive, I don’t think the serious film community is exactly going to be hurt. Plenty of niche sites exist that appeal to this crowd and the better films still make it to mainstream sites.

I wonder, though, if that situation could have been avoided if the professional critics that looked down on fan enthusiasm had instead gotten in the conversation more and engaged with online writers. If they had spent some time building relationships and gotten to know people would that have led to more links back to their reviews, leading to more links back to the sites in general and so on. I don’t know if that would have been successful but it certainly would have done a lot to avoid the “critics are out of touch in their ivory towers” attitude that has become pervasive over the course of the last number of years.

You still have surveys showing print publications are more trusted than online sources, though honestly the data isn’t sliced and diced enough in this MediaVest survey to show how opinions might vary by age group.

One way some major media companies are attempting to do that is by partnering with niche publishers, most often with advertising or content networks. But these aren’t conversational tactics, their branding efforts. That’s better than nothing but it’s also limiting in some regards because there’s still no opportunity for interaction with the people behind the brands.

The Internet is changing how we pull content into our days and how we interact with that content. From the way we research obscure trivia to finding and donating to political campaigns to what we get for our concert ticket money our expectations of content availability to how we think journalists will find information.

There’s value in creating your own experience, though there’s also some in having an experience defined by so-called experts. But people are, because communications are no longer limited by geography or even niche interest, finding the experts most relevant to them and latching on tightly. And that shift is only going to increase as new technologies develop.

Bringing me into the game

I keep looking at these pictures Rachelle Bowden took at the Cubs’ game and keep thinking how much more interesting they are than the sort you usually see with sports coverage. That’s largely because they’re taken from the fan’s point of view. That’s what social media is all about: Bringing the audience into an event or brand experience on a more personal, less staged and antiseptic way.

Surprise! Internet helps niche films

computer2.jpgLet me just offer one pull quote from the very top of this story by Anne Thompson on how the makers of a hockey documentary found success with online distribution of their movie:

“It is possible to exploit the power of the Internet to sell a movie without a theatrical release — as long as you have a title targeted at a narrow niche.”

OK, I’ll show you one more:

“‘The studios are looking for big-market homerun movies,” explains Gannon. “They’ve ceded the smaller niche films to the indies. We could do it fast and nimble and by the seat of the pants.’”

I will now sit back and adopt a righteous smirk while drumming my fingers triumphantly. More like this, please.