Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

The wisdom of professionals

Posted on | March 9, 2008 | No Comments

Lou Covey bird-dogs the Newsweek article that maybe, just maybe, the user-generated content era is coming to a close; that professionally generated content may be back in style; that the wisdom of crowds may not be so after all.
Let’s get this caveat out of the way: the piece is written by a paragon of the old media whose interest is, what else? survival.
Now that that’s out the way, let’s explore it.
There is a problem with the Internet model of information: as fantastic as it is to have all that information at your fingertips, it’s unmanageable. Traditional forms of news dissemination were useful and disposable. Radio news was fine and then you switched the channel. TV news was great, then you watched “All in the Family.” The newspaper was wonderful, then you lined your birdcage with it.
Digital information grows by the second AND bloats the archive. Few, save for people who really needed the information, went through microfilm archives of newspapers looking for information. Today we do it every day.
And guess what?
We cannot begin to wade through the fantastic resources out there. Where do you start? This problem grows by the second.
So what becomes important? Trusted content. Yes, this has been murmured about in publishing circles for years. But today it seems like revival time. When I was at EE Times and I would research a story in the digital age, I would spend hours hunting for new information on the web. Nearly 100 percent of the time, even though I always suspected some new source of information had popped up since my last research outing, I found the best information in EE Times’ archives. That was a trusted source.
I think most of us with paying jobs are tiring of searching the Internet every day for information that we think is out there but we never find in a form or at sufficient depth to make our jobs easier.
The era of the amateur is dead. It’s dead because of what I outlined above but also because of the economy. A strong economy, which we have experienced for the past several years, floats all bloggers. As more and more bloggers, Twitterers and digital “experts” lose their day jobs, their imperative shifts from the nice-to-have to the must-have. Blogging doesn’t pay on a large scale. Building your own YouTube channel doesn’t pay. Paycheck good.
Time is money. Time is wisdom. There is a ton of wisdom out in the world that can be accessible, but it’s no longer going to be free.

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No Responses to “The wisdom of professionals”

  1. John
    March 10th, 2008 @ 9:02 am

    Write on! 🙂
    I can’t believe that some people think they can get their news from blogs instead of professional news sources. Life is too short to wade through all the chaff for the facts.

  2. Ryerson
    March 10th, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

    I think it depends on the type of information you’re seeking.

    For traditional news, I see no reason to go read blogs. The traditional media know what they’re doing, and have it pretty cold. It seems to me most of the activity here isn’t really news reporting. It’s that lots of people are frustrated political columnists.

    But then there’s a whole host of “virtual watercooler” conversations (like this one) that I think are informative and really aren’t going to go away.

    I think this return to quality might be better characterized as “the rumors of big media’s death were exaggerated.” rather than amateur media is failing.

  3. Lou Covey
    March 10th, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

    Unfortunately, traditional news organizations are dying and many can’t pay living wages to reporters. The medium is changing. The economic model is changing. Blogging is going to become a journalistic exercise as more or the traditional media disappears and blogging hobbyists have to find a day job.

  4. Loring Wirbel
    March 10th, 2008 @ 4:24 pm

    The difference between Ryerson’s comment and Lou’s is that the former is how the consumer of traditional media wishes and hopes it could be, because the value of traditional media is still important to the reader/watcher. What Lou describes is the business conditions of the mainstream media as they actually exist. Part of this is due to family-owned media ops being taken over by investors that demanded higher rates of return, and part of it is due to the broken advertising model we’ve discussed ad infinitum. Anyway, the sad thing is the audience is giving a thumbs up, while the investors are saying “You’re outta here.” Case in point, the outpouring of professional writers’ support for the Albuquerque Tribune after Scripps announced it was going out of business.

  5. Ryerson
    March 12th, 2008 @ 10:26 am


    I disagree. There will be shakeouts, but in the end people will pay for content they want. There is more content now than the market will pay for. Media isn’t immune to supply and demand economics.

    I pay for the WSJ online. I pay nothing for the NY times on-line.

    Three is the tradtional tradeoff between subscription revenues, and higher circulation. I think media companies will have to look at this trade-off. There is a lot of content being given away to chase ad dollars that aren’t there.

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