As I mentioned at the end of the post before last ("Content is No Longer King"):
Being able to create high-quality content is a big advantage, but it's not the endgame. On the web it's less and less about creating and more and more about Aggregating ... Curating ... Annotating ... and Facilitating. That's a big reason why the little guys are now jumping over the big guys like Jack Russell Terriers on a hunt, and in heat.
That said, the Big Guys do have a bunch of advantages.
Before we get to the advantages Big Media enjoys — and how they can create new editorial products that can be monetized, based on those advantages — let's review the current state of their affairs:
DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS
The internet with it's ever evolving set of features and utilities has made it incredibly easy to aggregate content and information, and the inevitable result is that rather than create new content, most individuals have gone meta — the web is filling up with content about content, news about news, remarks about remarks, reviews about reviews — simply because it's far easier and faster to comment than to create. It's far easier to simply link, rate and rant, than produce original content. So, almost all what individuals are producing, and a good chunk of what is now being consumed, is happening down on the left-hand side of The Curve.
To be clear: I'm not saying bloggers are lazy by nature, I'm just saying the web makes some things incredibly easy. And it takes a lot of resources to do more than just comment and link.
So, the Big Guys are dying a death by a thousand cuts — make that a google's worth — in no small part because they're still doing the heavy lifting, e.g. they're creating news reports, episodic television shows and feature films, and spending lots of money to do it — while everyone and their mother is using Big Media's highly produced materials as grist for their own home brew mills.
And, unfortunately for Big Media, the audience would just as soon read meta content, just as soon read coverage about the coverage than read the actual coverage itself; or, if it's video, the audience often would rather see the raw and unfiltered videos, rather than the produced, filtered and packaged coverage.
In short: the gatekeepers have lost their gates, and now they're getting nibbled to death by millions of little guys down on the left-side of The Curve, each one a nasty little blade cutting away at the Big Boy's audience.
Death by a google's worth of cuts.
“HOW DO WE GET THOSE LITTLE BLADES WORKING FOR US?”
That’s the question the Big Guys are finally starting to ask themselves:
How can Big Media get the blades — especially the blades of the blogisphere — to work for them?
One answer is by utilizing Big Media's biggest advantage, i.e. deep resources and scale, to create a TEAM of bloggers, each with their own style and individual sensibility, and having them contribute collectively to a single "Event Blog" — to provide a depth of coverage in a single presentation that none of the millions of individual bloggers acting alone can match.
That individual sensibility is especially important when it comes to coverage of major sports, entertainment and planned "news" events (e.g. campaign and convention coverage), precisely the events where resources and scale matter, and where the pre-packaged nature of traditional event coverage no longer resonates with much of the audience.
The Big Guys need to deploy their people on the scene in a manner that best fits the "post gate-keeper" media world — to enable their Event Blog Team to become part of the scene itself and — through a blend of raw initiative, a bit of chaos and a new form of participatory, ("Hey, let me take a video of us!") coverage.
The end result is an Event Blog — a product that is unique, easily branded and highly sponsor-able — and something, for now at least, that Big Media companies, because of their ability to invest resources, are best positioned to produced.
THINK QUILT, NOT BLANKET
Instead of providing blanket coverage of an event, the goal with Blogging Teams should be to create quilted coverage, to stitch together moments, fragments, video snapshots and commentary about major events — to create an evolving scrapbook for an audience that doesn't just tolerate but has an appetite for low production values (the left-hand side of the curve) and for incomplete productions — publishing them in real time for an audience that isn't looking for the whole story in a single narrative. It's an audience that with regard to
video is happy with fragments in the form of quick scenes, and in print
online with pictures, short comments and links.
We took a few steps in this direction for Maxim and Blender with their digital coverage of the Super Bowl and the "South by Southwest" Music Festival.
In each case, we flooded the zone (as the dearly departed Howell Raines would say), spraying it with a passionate team of young, video-enabled bloggers, all contributing to a singe Special Event Blog.
There's a wonderful rawness to both blogs — an authentic, behind-the-scenes sensibility, balanced with real smarts — the sort of sensibility that used to exist at Rolling Stone Magazine.
Captured over time, in real-time, the end result gives the multimedia audience a sense of the myriad moments — and ludicrous observations — that make up and surround any "big event."
(None of it's going to win a Pulitzer but that's not the point — at least, that wasn't the point when developing these for Maxim's online audience and sensibilities.)
The below clip contains a moment of economic analysis by a Ticket Scalper that CNBC would be proud of (honest), it's @ 1:40 into the video.
And because these entries were part of a single, special Team Blog, there is a cohesiveness to the chaos.
The end result doesn't "tell" a story as much as let the audience experience the story.
“NO NAME” CREDIBILITY
Critical to the editorial success of these Event Blogs is the fact that they were reported by behind-the-scenes personnel, rather than on-camera "talent" or big name bylines.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION FROM THE EVENT
Because in this "Do It Yourself" media
world, the audience responds positively and interacts differently with
productions they feel they could have contributed to themselves.
Event Blogs should give those members of the audience also at the event
an opportunity to do just that.
For the SxSW Music Festival we a contacted bands and musicians in advance, and asked them to file their own reports to the Event Blog — and their reports give you a truer picture of the lives of indie bands at their Super Bowl than anything else I've ever seen or read. Anywhere.
Here's a tremendous, short video report created by the band, Produce O:
WHAT WOULD HUNTER DO?
If Hunter Thompson were in his mid-20's today, I think this (partially) is how he would be covering events.
Hunter and Cameron Crowe wouldn’t just be blogging, they'd be out capturing in sight and sound their point of view of "the scene" surrounding the big events.
They’d still file the ultimate wrap-piece or profile, but Hunter and Crowe's coverage would be "video snapshots" — posted during, not after the events, in a highly annotated and personal style.
And they'd be doing it as part of an Team Blog team. (And Rolling Stone would be selling it, big time.)
It's something the Big Media companies should be doing now, while they have the advantage — using the young, passionate and intrepid journalists and aspiring websters already on their staffs, i.e. the kids working for them as researchers, production assistants and associate producers, in their day jobs, while on their own blogging and building websites at night and on the weekends.
And they should do it before the independent bloggers start collaborating ad hoc on their own special events coverage.