Richard Hine's Blog - Posts Tagged "social-media"

A recent tweet by @timmcguire alerted me to the fact that he had written a blog post about my novel Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch.

When I clicked on the link, I discovered that Tim McGuire is the Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

I particularly enjoyed the headline he'd written: "'Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch' is a must read for newspaper refugees and corporate survivors"

Reading the article, I discovered he didn't love every single little thing about my book. But that was OK. I savored the best parts: "brilliant... exceptionally funny...an up-to-date-hilarious snapshot of the problems facing mainstream media."

One line in particular jumped out at me:

"I felt so strongly about author Richard Hine’s newspaper analysis that I’m using an excerpt in my Business and Future of Journalism class here at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School."

I contacted Tim McGuire on Twitter and we connected via email. And yes, indeed, he's asking students to read a big chunk of Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch to illustrate the challenges facing newspapers in the digital age.

If "Russell Wiley" doesn't help Walter Cronkite students solve all the problems in the old media world, at least, he tells me, it provides "a humorous interlude" as well as a new way to spur classroom discussion.

You can read Tim McGuire's whole blog post here:

http://cronkite.asu.edu/mcguireblog/?...
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Published on March 01, 2011 15:49 • 3,100 views • Tags: business, debut-novel, education, fiction, humor, journalism, media, new-york-city, newspapers, publishing, satire, social-media, twitter
*** Including (live) songs by Lloyd Cole, Fountains of Wayne, and The Cure ***

Welcome to the final installment of this three-part musical playlist featuring songs that are mentioned in or somehow related to my novel Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch.

Parts One and Two touched on the personal, professional and global concerns facing the sex-starved, newsprint-stained and easily distracted would-be hero Russell Wiley.

Part Three will hint at how, after disaster ensues, Russell attempts to pick up the pieces and get his personal and professional life back on track. Because Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch is intended as a comedy, these songs are intended to convey, without any too-obvious spoilers, that by the time the novel ends, some sense of optimism has been restored.

----

We begin with a scene in which Russell is at least embracing the new (circa 2006) technologies that are so transforming life in general and his business in particular:

-- p.265: I disconnect my iPod from my laptop and insert it into the dock of my speakers. I dress myself while Lloyd Cole sings about Young Idealists. I pack all my devices—computer, Blackberry, cellphone—into my messenger bag, then clip my iPod to my belt and plug in my headphones. Lloyd’s no longer angry, no longer young, no longer driven to distraction, not even by Scarlett Johannson. Then I’m riding down the elevator, heading out into the cold gray January morning, listening to a song about New York City Sunshine.

Here is a clip of one of the three songs referenced in that passage (all from Lloyd Cole’s excellent 2006 album ‘Antidepressant’), in a version recorded by me, live at City Winery, NYC, on June 11, 2011:

Track 7: LLOYD COLE: Woman in a Bar (Live)

http://www.youtube.com/richardhineaut...

Toward the end of the novel Russell Wiley and his colleagues at the Daily Business Chronicle finally start trying some new ideas. And some of them actually work. While he hasn’t solved all the challenges facing newspapers in the age of the internet it seems that, for now at least, Russell Wiley’s professional future is looking a little brighter.

-- p.278: I take a stroll through the sales department. Things are quiet, but I can sense the intensity. For the first time in years, our salespeople are getting their calls returned.

Track 8: FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE: Bright Future in Sales (Live)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V808or...

But what of Russell’s personal challenges? One of the only companions he’s truly relied on throughout the novel is his Lucky Cat, a gift from a Japanese colleague which Russell likes to imagine has magical powers. At then end of the novel he receives a second gift from the same colleague:

-- p. 288: I set the box on the table and lift off the lid. Inside, there’s a plastic Lucky Cat. It’s identical to the black one I have in my office, only this one is pink. I hold it up to the room.
“I noticed you kept your first cat in the office,” says Kiko. “It brought you luck at work. Now you can take one home, too. Pink is to make you lucky in love.”

Track 9: THE CURE: The Lovecats (Live)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk08Zb...

Will Russell Wiley’s new Lucky Cat solve all his romantic problems? For that you’ll need to read the book.

Thanks for tuning in to Russell Wiley's Sing-Along Blog. For more info about Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch, please visit www.richardhine.com or your favorite online bookseller.
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This is not a blog entry, more of a price alert: The Kindle edition of Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch is now on sale for just £1.99 in the UK -- 78% off the list price.

The novel currently has 28 reviews on Amazon UK, averaging 4 stars. In the words of one top Amazon UK reviewer: "it could be another in an already fairly crowded range of Nick Hornby-style novels about middle-aged men and their mid-life crises. However it's worth checking out, because whilst that is in fact what the book is about, it's a very good example of the kind."

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Russell-Wiley...

If you do check it out, please let me know what you think.
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Published on September 20, 2011 07:58 • 174 views • Tags: advertising, debut-novel, fiction, humour, journalism, kindle, kindle-books, lad-lit, media, new-york-city, newspapers, satire, social-media, the-office, uk
I was asked recently by Brand Republic, a UK media & marketing website, to write something that would help its readers navigate the changing world of traditional media. Because that site is for subscribers only, I'm going to share what I wrote below. Comments are always welcome.

-----------------------------------------

How to Survive the Death of Print: A handy guide for newspaper and magazine people

By Richard Hine

Just so we’re clear: I’m here to help. Not to argue.

I know that as a newspaper or magazine employee you’re extremely capable of making a compelling case that: “print still has a place in people’s lives.” Maybe it does. But so does poetry. And badminton. And frankly we don’t have much time. So let’s move on.

Today I’m going to outline 10 simple steps that will show you exactly How to Survive the Death of Print. For your own sake, I hope you pay close attention.

Step 1. Stop being so defensive.

I have to point out that I’m still feeling a lot of resistance from you. I can feel you itching to tell me that nothing beats the feel a beautiful, glossy magazine in your pudgy, damp hands. Or the serendipity of coming across that one vitally important nugget of information you know is buried somewhere in your stack of unread papers. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now let it go.

Step 2. Put as many of these words as you can into a single sentence.

App. Tablet. Paywall. SEO optimisation. Monetisation. Customisation. Particle acceleration. Mobile. Geo-targeted. Click-through rate. Finish your sentence with this phrase: “but at the end of the day it’s all about the content, and that’s what’s going to set us apart.”

Step 3. Find out from FourSquare or Facebook Places where your company’s “digital guru” is at this moment.

Find her. Show her the sentence you just wrote. Ask her if it makes sense purely on technical terms. Then beg her to rewrite it into something a normal human being might understand.

Step 4. Memorize your revised sentence.

Use it in every meeting you attend and email you write for the next six months.

Step 5. Ignore that new piece of “good news” about print.

You may be tempted to trumpet some not-bad new statistic, like: “Newspaper ad revenues are declining slightly more slowly in the 3rd quarter.” Or: “In Norway, circulation in the women’s category fell only 0.7% last year.” Don’t fall into that trap. Remember step 1.

Step 6. Make your boss a key ally in your success.

The real world of print media is nothing like The Devil Wears Prada. Unless you’re working for Anna Wintour, your real boss will be nothing like Meryl Streep or the Miranda Priestly character. She will be sweet, charming and well-mannered, with only occasional freakouts. Ignore the freakouts. Just remember your boss is completely terrified of being usurped by a 25-year-old with the interpersonal skills of Mark Zuckerberg. Your challenge is to convince her you’re her loyal ally, and also that you “know digital” in a non-intimidating way. Every time Facebook decides on a new definition of “privacy” for 800 million people, make sure to volunteer to update your boss’s account settings. Note: You will also need to explain to her exactly what hashtags are at least once a month.

Step 7. Add the words “… and social media strategist” to your job title on your CV and include them in your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

Do this whether you’re a journalist, work in ad sales or circulation, or at the printing plant. But do this especially if you’re a higher paid executive who’s “at risk” the next time the company decides to “re-rationalise the cumbersome complexity” of its recently re-organised corporate structure.

Step 8. Cultivate a mentor.

Why do you need a mentor when you get on so well with your terrific boss? Because your boss will be fired within the next 6-12 months, that’s why. Seriously, are you not paying attention to what’s going on around you? Note: Your mentor should be somebody senior who has jokingly expressed jealousy of the way your boss has set up her Facebook privacy settings.

Step 9. Get up early each morning and read a quality newspaper.

This will make you better informed than any of your peers, but when they ask you how you know so much, point to your Blackberry, Android or iPad and say you get all your news whilst “on the go.” Reading a good newspaper will also help you identify other industries that might make sense for a smart, resourceful person like you when this whole thing goes pear-shaped.

Step 10. Focus on the big picture.

That great print brand you love so much, that gives you a reason to get up in the morning, is doomed. It’s sad. At times, you may be tempted to start drinking too much and gorging on greasy foods. Work out instead. You’ll want to look good and have a well-oxygenated brain if you plan on competing with all those whipsmart technogeeks in the world of “branded multi-platform digital content distribution.” And if that’s not your goal, working out now will help even more later. Truth is, your quirky sense of humour will only take you so far when you’re trying to find a new entry level position in whatever dynamic, growth-oriented industry you try to get into next. And trust me, after you lose that last 15 lbs and get a new haircut, you really will look and feel so much better.
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Published on October 17, 2011 08:44 • 699 views • Tags: advice, books, career-advice, debut-novel, ebooks, how-to, humor, humour, ipad, magazines, newspapers, novel, print, publishing, satire, social-media, the-office
The debate about the future of newspapers continues, most recently with the release of a new ($1.99) ebook by ProPublica's Richard Tofel claiming that newspapers gave away the store by not charging for online content from day one.

According to Tofel, in the early days of the internet (i.e. the days of pay-for-access services AOL and Compuserve) "the notions of what consumers would pay for — and what they should even be asked to pay for — were turned on their heads"

Here's a tiny bit more of that argument in the form a FREE excerpt (which are still OK with everyone, I guess):

http://allthingsd.com/20120208/why-am...

Others were quick to pounce on this idea, most notably blogger, j-school prof and Twitter luminary @jeffjarvis who rehashes multiple arguments in this more extensive FREE article:

http://www.businessinsider.com/sin-or...

Jarvis concludes with a basic argument I tend to agree with: "I think the newspaper industry failed... because it still thinks its job is to make and sell content when I think its job should be to serve and enable their communities."

And then I went on Twitter today. And, as I often do, I clicked on a link.

It promised to connect me to what looked like an interesting article about author Jennifer Egan.

The link led me to an article on Tallahassee.com (the website of the Tallahassee Democrat).

Unfortunately I wasn't able to read more than 36 words before being asked to pay $9.95 (or $2 for a one-day pass).

As much as I like Jennifer Egan and her writing -- A Visit from the Goon Squad is, indeed, fantastic, and I'm glad I paid full price to read it -- I'm not sure, given the other free content available on the internet, I need to pay $2 for an article that begins:

"Nearly 30 students from Florida State's Creative Writing Program gathered in a basement classroom on a rainy Friday afternoon to pick the brain of visiting Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and New York Times Magazine writer Jennifer Egan."

http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20...

I'd like to see the Tallahassee Democrat, its parent company Gannett, and most other newspapers survive in at least one form or another.

But I'm not part of the community the Tallahassee Democrat serves. I'm living in cyberspace -- in the linked (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post) economy, where information is (mostly) free and instant. I'd have been quite happy to spend a few minutes on Tallahassee.com today, allowing the site to serve up a few ads and make a little extra money for having written a small, mildly interesting, local article.

I can understand and when necessary make the argument for paid content -- subscriptions, micropayments, metered access, whatever.

But sometimes, when I'm a consumer beating my head against a paywall, I revert to a less sophisticated argument:

Newspapers are stupid.
---------

NOTE: I gave some additional thoughts about the dying world of print in an interview with Goodreads back in November 2010: http://www.goodreads.com/interviews/s...
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Stephanie Campisi who runs the Australian literary website Read In a Single Sitting was one of the first people to review "Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch" back in 2010.

When she asked to interview me for her site recently, I was more than happy to oblige, especially as her questions gave me the chance to talk about the writing of "Russell Wiley," the future of newspapers, politics, social media and my attempts to be less annoying:

http://www.readinasinglesitting.com/2...

Thanks, Stephanie!
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Published on April 03, 2012 08:57 • 317 views • Tags: authors, books, debut-novel, e-books, fiction, humor, interviews, new-york-city, newspapers, politics, publishing, satire, social-media, the-office
Page One: Inside The New York Times is a compelling fly-on-the-wall documentary (released in 2011) that takes you inside the newsroom during a stressful, challenging time in The Gray Lady's history. It's out now on DVD and available for streaming via Amazon.

It's 2010, and as newspapers all around the country are going bankrupt, things are looking dire at The Times too. The question is, if it's this tough for the New York Times - and by extension every other national and major metro newspaper - what hope is there for everyone else?

For those who know the industry, the challenges are not new: Like most US newspapers, the NYT is struggling in the age of the internet. The high costs of the "legacy" business - a big newsroom, a network of global bureaus, a dead-tree product distributed inefficiently by a fleet of trucks, etc. etc. - are slamming up against a declining print readership and, even more importantly, a cratering ad market, with the Classified section already savaged by Craigslist and the "expensive" display advertising market tanking in the face of a brutal recession.

But if the future is all online, where does the future revenue come from? Especially in a world where, as the Times's Brian Stelter points out, more and more online readers have, "grown up in the era where everything seems free."

Beyond the business questions, the film also explores the crucial debate about the role newspapers like the Times play in American society. Are they, as then-Executive Editor Bill Keller says, "essential to a functioning democracy." Do they still fulfill the mission described by famed Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein of delivering "the best obtainable version of the truth"?

Among the 2010 news stories we see covered: The release of the Wikileaks cables. The final pullout of combat troops from Iraq. The Times reporting on the bankruptcy of Sam Zell's doomed experiment at the Tribune Company. Plus, stories crucial to the Times's own future: the launch of the iPad, the decision to charge for access to the Times online. (This attempt to reinvent the online business model with a "metered paywall," is described by media and tech guru Clay Shirky as the "NPR model" relying on the support of a faithful, well-intentioned audience so that a product may survive to serve the general good.)

At one point Sam Zell is seen (in a clip from a YouTube video) talking to his newspaper employees explaining how he will save the Tribune Company because "he is not a newspaperman, (but) a business man."

The movie follows business columnist David Carr - a star of the movie - as he reports on the collapse of Sam Zell's Tribune Company, the biggest media bankruptcy in history. When explaining how CEO Randy Michaels and a handful of executives extracted $100 million in bonuses even as billions of dollars of value evaporated, Carr wryly states: "you could call that incentives or you could call that looting, depending on your perspective."

Later we see how David Carr's extensive takedown of the "frat-house" culture that helped destroy the morale of Tribune employees comes together--and how Carr relies on "the muscles of the institution" of The Times to get to work when the Tribune lawyers threaten legal action before his story goes to press.

Watch this movie and you will, I'm sure, care about the answers to the questions it raises: Can news(papers) be saved? Can reporting staffs and foreign bureaus be saved? What is journalism in the age of Twitter and Wikileaks? Who will pay to keep newspapers going? How much do we all lose if and when the journalism now produced by newspapers goes away?
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Published on April 04, 2012 10:46 • 1,228 views • Tags: brian-stelter, david-carr, dvd, journalism, media, movies, news, newspapers, print, sam-zell, social-media, the-new-york-times, tribune-company
It's five years since famed media journalist and Rupert Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff wrote an article for Vanity Fair headlined "Billionaires and Broadsheets."

In it, he described an unnamed billionaire who was interested in the "cheap" opportunities reflected in the 2007 valuations of newspaper companies:

"He knew nothing whatsoever about the newspaper business, or news. Zip. Nada. I am not sure he quite understood that it was a bleak business. I offered that there are many people who believe that the commercial viability of big-city dailies will be kaput within five years.

He said, with affable certainty, and as though agreeing with me, Oh, but there will always be lots and lots of people who want to read a newspaper."

The full article is here: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/fe...

Of course, newspapers were not necessarily "cheap" in 2007, as we found out last week when the Newsosaur blog (a great source of newspaper industry analysis) reported the sale of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News at just 10% of their 2006 value.

Details here: http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/2012/04...

But five years later, it seems that billionaires are still the best hope newspapers have. As David Carr just wrote in "The Return of the Newspaper Barons," a new article in The New York Times:

"If most newspapers are an uneconomical proposition incapable of sustaining profits, let alone pay off the debt so many buyers have larded on them, who is left to own them?

Rich guys."

The only difference is that, five years after Wolff's article, the rich guys now buying papers (Buffett in Omaha, Sussman in Maine, plus the Philly consortium) no longer think they can "cut their way to former glory and renewed profitability." Writes Carr: "In each instance, the buyer was motivated, at least in part, by the fact that newspapers faced an existential threat: but for the new owners and their deep pockets, they might go away."

Full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/bus...

As Carr makes clear, the renewed interest of billionaires in newspapers is based more on a desire to further specific business and political interests than any thought that there are new solutions to the newspaper business model. Which means the crisis continues, as reflected in this week's Newsosaur headline: "Publishers lost $27 in print for every digital $1."

Ouch.
-------

p.s. I gave Goodreads my own thoughts on the future of newspapers and the billionaires who buy them in this 2010 interview about my own "wry look at an imploding newspaper," Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch:

http://www.goodreads.com/interviews/s...
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As a former Time Magazine employee (back in the 1990s, when three major newsweeklies were trying, mostly successfully, to convince advertisers they were not dinosaurs in the age of 24/7 cable news), I'm saddened by the announcement that Newsweek--Time's chief competitor since 1933--will cease appearing in print at the end of this year. But I'm not surprised.

These days, as I told Goodreads two years ago, "The Internet is the newspaper."

http://www.goodreads.com/interviews/s...

Last year, I wrote a blog post entitled "How to Survive the Death of Print: A Handy Guide for Newspaper and Magazine Employees"

I'm reposting it here for people still in the "old media" business wondering what, at least on a personal level, they should do now--and next.

--------------------------

Just so we’re clear: I’m here to help. Not to argue.

I know that as a newspaper or magazine employee you’re extremely capable of making a compelling case that: “print still has a place in people’s lives.” Maybe it does. But so does poetry. And badminton. And frankly we don’t have much time. So let’s move on.

Today I’m going to outline 10 simple steps that will show you exactly How to Survive the Death of Print. For your own sake, I hope you pay close attention.

Step 1. Stop being so defensive.

I have to point out that I’m still feeling a lot of resistance from you. I can feel you itching to tell me that nothing beats the feel a beautiful, glossy magazine in your pudgy, damp hands. Or the serendipity of coming across that one vitally important nugget of information you know is buried somewhere in your stack of unread papers. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now let it go.

Step 2. Put as many of these words as you can into a single sentence.

App. Tablet. Paywall. SEO optimization. Monetization. Customization. Particle acceleration. Mobile. Geo-targeted. Click-through rate. Finish your sentence with this phrase: “but at the end of the day it’s all about the content, and that’s what’s going to set us apart.”

Step 3. Find out from FourSquare or Facebook Places where your company’s “digital guru” is at this moment.

Find her. Show her the sentence you just wrote. Ask her if it makes sense purely on technical terms. Then beg her to rewrite it into something a normal human being might understand.

Step 4. Memorize your revised sentence.

Use it in every meeting you attend and email you write for the next six months.

Step 5. Ignore that new piece of “good news” about print.

You may be tempted to trumpet some not-bad new statistic, like: “Newspaper ad revenues are declining slightly more slowly in the 3rd quarter.” Or: “In Norway, circulation in the women’s category fell only 0.7% last year.” Don’t fall into that trap. Remember step 1.

Step 6. Make your boss a key ally in your success.

The real world of print media is nothing like The Devil Wears Prada. Unless you’re working for Anna Wintour, your real boss will be nothing like Meryl Streep or the Miranda Priestly character. She will be sweet, charming and well-mannered, with only occasional freakouts. Ignore the freakouts. Just remember your boss is completely terrified of being usurped by a 25-year-old with the interpersonal skills of Mark Zuckerberg. Your challenge is to convince her you’re her loyal ally, and also that you “know digital” in a non-intimidating way. Every time Facebook decides on a new definition of “privacy” for 800 million people, make sure to volunteer to update your boss’s account settings. Note: You will also need to explain to her exactly what hashtags are at least once a month.

Step 7. Add the words “… and social media strategist” to your job title on your CV and include them in your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

Do this whether you’re a journalist, work in ad sales or circulation, or at the printing plant. But do this especially if you’re a higher paid executive who’s “at risk” the next time the company decides to “re-rationalize the cumbersome complexity” of its recently re-organized corporate structure.

Step 8. Cultivate a mentor.

Why do you need a mentor when you get on so well with your terrific boss? Because your boss will be fired within the next 6-12 months, that’s why. Seriously, are you not paying attention to what’s going on around you? Note: Your mentor should be somebody senior who has jokingly expressed jealousy of the way your boss has set up her Facebook privacy settings.

Step 9. Get up early each morning and read a quality newspaper.

This will make you better informed than any of your peers, but when they ask you how you know so much, point to your Blackberry, Android or iPad and say you get all your news whilst “on the go.” Reading a good newspaper will also help you identify other industries that might make sense for a smart, resourceful person like you when this whole thing goes pear-shaped.

Step 10. Focus on the big picture.

That great print brand you love so much, that gives you a reason to get up in the morning, is doomed. It’s sad. At times, you may be tempted to start drinking too much and gorging on greasy foods. Work out instead. You’ll want to look good and have a well-oxygenated brain if you plan on competing with all those whipsmart technogeeks in the world of “branded multi-platform digital content distribution.” And if that’s not your goal, working out now will help even more later. Truth is, your quirky sense of humor will only take you so far when you’re trying to find a new entry level position in whatever dynamic, growth-oriented industry you try to get into next. And trust me, after you lose that last 15 lbs and get a new haircut, you really will look and feel so much better.
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Published on October 20, 2012 07:05 • 531 views • Tags: advertising, business, career-advice, facebook, how-to, humor, internet, journalism, magazines, newsweek, novels, print-publishing, satire, social-media, twitter
It's been a big Christmas for Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch!

My novel is now out in audiobook with a great reading by Aaron Abano. It's available on MP3 CD and as an Audible download (here's the US link):

http://www.amazon.com/Russell-Wiley-I...

Plus, in the UK, Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch has just been added to the "12 Days of Kindle" sale. It's only 99p for a limited time.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Russell-Wiley...

Best wishes for the holiday season -- and happy reading in 2013.
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