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February 25, 2007

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I don't mean to detract from the online successes of these two tabloids by writing this, just to say that they do things differently, and this is key to their success.

Alright, I'll detract from the success. It's one thing to use a number of different sorts of means to market. It's another thing when those "means" start defining your content in ways you can't control.

I think one has to distinguish between serious and non-serious users. I've been attacked for being elitist for this notion, and I'm fine with that attack, because the notion explains a lot of what goes on in life. If you want people that aren't serious about anything to use your site, well, there will always be the potential for a sizable audience. And that audience will gladly stick around until the next fad comes.

Whether or not we should think of this sort of trend as the future of media is another question. I submit that it shouldn't even be considered worthy of thought, that's how vulgar the phenomenon is. You can sell stuff to them, sure. But if a market for serious news stems from them, or if they suddenly want to critique Dag Hammerskjold's work in the UN or his Haiku, such things aren't essential to their being there, but rather accidental.

I dunno. Your post, for me, seems to be hinting that the destruction of traditional media, as problematic as it was, is the destruction of all media, esp. if all user generated content is considered equal, and only important inasmuch as marketing can be done with it.

Your invitation to play LOST:

www.lost.eu/20ac1

I hear you. See, that's what you occasionally get when you have a journalist blogging: the odd knee-jerk ass-covering statements like these:-) Suffice to say that I've seen more honest approaches to utilising user generated content.

I do think that there are models where relying more on user generated content can work pretty well, but MSM is testing and trying, failing and succeeding in a thousand different ways in this area at the moment, which is partly what makes these such fascinating times. Media companies are all desperately seeking the magic formula for succeeding in this brave new media world of ours, the model outlined above is but one of many competing models. This model might serve its purpose for a tabloid, but it's hardly transferable to what we used to call broadsheets, and I doubt that these tabloid online blogging communities are sustainable in the long run – as people get more advanced in blogging I suspect that many leave to set up blogs on independent blogging platforms like wordpress, typepad etc.

Remember what Jeff Jarvis was saying about the Guardian, and Comment Is Free?

I think that's a model that can work: there are some really educated, thoughtful people out there who make a lot of op-ed columnists look really bad. And the capacity for doing original research just using the Internet is enormous.

But I think those communities are forming organically, and one thing a really smart media company might want to do is seek them out, and induce them to work full-time for pay.

That brings up a more general question I wanted to ask you: It seems to me the concept of an employer actively looking for talent, scouting and recruiting as opposed to taking what comes in applications, is gone nowadays. Is it really gone, and if it is, what can I do to bring it back?

Yes, Comment is Free is excellent, and also suceeds in 'widening the debate' by bringing more voices into it. With the Internet and the blogosphere, media no longer monopolise the national debate, and have to find ways to join the big discussions going on elsewhere. How do they do this? Here's where all the different models come in, and you have to give them credit for trying - even if that means that they occasionally will be fail, as long as they keep trying, adjusting, and trying again. It's not an easy new reality to adjust to.

To your last question, about employers scouting for talent, I'm afraid my answer is as good as yours. I don't think that applications is the only route though, it's who you know, being at the right place at the right time etc. But it wouldn't hurt to send an email to publications you would like to write for alerting them to your work...

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