Thoughts On The WKRN Meetup
Wow. Deep title. Well, it was a much deeper meetup than I expected. Much of the usual crowd was there. People look different fresh out of bed vs. unwinding after a long day's work. Always generous, our hosts at WKRN provided a bountiful spread. Always timid, only about half the bloggers actually ate something.
The surprise for me was that there were four speakers and a long and dedicated lecture portion to the morning.
Mike Sechrist, WKRN's GM, spoke briefly about the history of WKRN's relationship with bloggers and the continued positive financial rewards the station has reaped from its association with the local blogosphere. The specific example he mentioned was their large ratings share in the double-broadcast of the Titans v. Packers game. Because the idea for that double broadcast came directly from respected blogger Roger Abramson, Mike rightfully credits his station's windfall in part to the blogosphere. He then touched again briefly on News 2's hopes to expand into the citizen journalism and citizen video content arenas.
Terry Heaton--always great to see him--was back briefly from Dallas and filled us in on the continued breaking of ground spawned by News 2's unique embrace of New Media.
Michael Rosenblum, the third speaker, was very much a surprise and kept the crowd entertained with colourful recountings of the history of communication and the new renaissance he sees in infancy as The Means Of Production are made more accessible to the masses. It was a bit of Karl Marx meets Spaceship Earth.
Mr. Rosenblum's envigorating speech was followed by a representative of Pheedo, an RSS-advertising services company. Pheedo's business model is one of brokering adspace onto individual blogs' RSS feeds.
I've been mulling these various presentations over in my mind for some time, and I think what I have to say is probably a bit of an echo of what others are saying in segments around the blogosphere. I've no doubt that some form of communication revolution is bubbling under the tarpit of mass media. But the disconnect, the problem, the Wycliffe-burning was clearly illustrated by the latter two speakers this morning.
Mr. Rosenblum represented everything that is hopeful and enthusiastic for New Media Distribution enthusiasts the world over. No longer is production of entertainment limited to the Media Rockefellers and Gettys. Any dude with a camera and a dream can create a multi-million dollar windfall series like Trauma: Life In The ER (Mr. Rosenblum's entree into CivVid--Civilian Video). But honestly, Mr. Rosenblum is not just any dude with a camera. He's based in New York. He has had previous network employ. He had a buddy he could call at the Learning Channel. Most Dudes With Cameras lack these three key elements when they sit in front of Final Cut with their own personal Amblin's.
Pheedo represented the cold hard reality of modern New Media. IF you advertise, IF you have enough readers, IF advertisers can be successfully solicited it is possible to earn $50 a month for your original content. Don't get me wrong--$50 is nothing to sneeze at. But it's a far cry from the multi-millionaire utopia Mr. Rosenblum spoke about. And that is the disconnect.
Yes, you have wonderfully talented people producing phenomenal new content every day. Not because they want the money but because they are compelled to write. Compelled to play music. Compelled to film. You see the best and worst of people's striving out here in the trenches. Some of the best stuff I've read this year has been free. Great writers writing because they must write or die, not because they were on the staff of Harvard Lampoon and now goldbricking on the staff of The Simpsons. I'm a writer. I am part of the write or die camp. I do this for nothing, and any comments I get are as great a payment to me as a check. Cash money'd be nice of course, but it's not flowing in abundance from the struck rock of Established Media.
Will there ever be money in it for groups like the Nashville Blogosphere? Frankly, I think there could be. But I really think that as long as we're still competing with the older business models of established print and video networks the best way for a blogosphere like ours to cash out would be to sell bundled advertising. Advertisers may not care about my 150 hits a day. But think of me as one page of the magazine. Think of Sarcastro as another. (Yes, this is one odd magazine.) Think of John H. as another, and yourself, etc. Would advertisers buy space in a block of blogs like this? I think they would--at least more readily. In my husband's work we see the complete glut of ad space available. I don't think microadvertising is the most workable model right now. I'd be most excited to see some type of sphere branding that would, like a liferaft, tie a bunch of blogs together for floating a more exposed ad buy.
Until then, if any of you camera-savvy people want a writer for your WKRN submission give me a holler. I lack a camera and come up a bit shy in overall telegenicness. But if you need the words, I got 'em.