Sep 25, 2009

from Rachel with love

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Sorry old school journalists, savvy advertising experts and prickly control-freak publicists but it’s time to realize something. To survive you can no longer be storytellers – you have to be information managers.  Here are some examples:

Rachel Maddow is an information manager. She takes the current news trends, analyzes them and offers up her opinion. She translates and disseminates information using a liberal, celesbian lens. We know it, we’re fine with it, we’ll watch her if we like that slant – and her numbers are through the roof.

Katie Couric is a storyteller. She takes the current news, tells the story she thinks we will find most interesting (called a HOOK or ANGLE) and puts a pretty package together hoping no one else has that same ANGLE.  Boring, yawn, her numbers are in the toilet.

Jon Stewart is also an information manager. He takes the current news, translates and gives it to us with using the funny lens. His numbers are great. Even Perez Hilton, as much as we love to hate him, is  an information manager. Perez takes the celebrity news and translates it with a snarky, ‘I used to be a geek and now I’m more powerful than you’ lens. His traffic numbers are still incredible.

Just try to ‘package’ a story or launch a brand these days with a clever message and a nice dose of spin. What happens? The public’s immediate attitude is that ‘WE WILL TAKE YOU DOWN, MOTHERF*&#ER’. (Remember Motrin Moms?) Today’s social media/citizen journalists love nothing better than to debunk a story, expose an exclusive, steal a headline from a print paper, or do whatever else it takes to prove they can get there faster and more provocatively than traditional media. And guess what? They’re winning the race.

It’s time to admit what we haven’t wanted to admit for a long time -  information is  too real-time and too accessible for us to believe the ‘stories’ any more. We want to pick our chosen lens and get our information there.

Who’s your favorite information manager?

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4 comments on “from Rachel with love”

  1. I think you are confusing social commentators, comedians, gossip columnists and news broadcasters. Granted, the current environment of immediate news and the blurring of roles as well as the public’s dwindling attention span have all contributed to that confusion. But I think it is wrong to assert that story telling is dead. People will always want stories. They just now need them to be much shorter, and funny and or snarky. If they know they can count on a particular source to be dependable they will count on them. Katie Couric is limited by the CBS news organization to be what she is. But she still probably did more to take down that crazy ex-beauty queen, ex-governor than Jon Stewart’s jibes and Tina Fey’s impressions put together. She exposed the complete lack of anything behind those glasses and the others fed off the fresh kill. Beware of facile distinctions, they may look good on paper. Things are way too complicated these days to easily assign labels. Katie can be dull certainly but she can be a shark too.

    October 9th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

  2. @johnfredette: touche on Couric. she did do that. though, for year after year returns Jon Stewart and Rachel.msnbc are top notch. i’d add South park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker. they are animators, but they repackage news, info and the bizarreness of the everyday into some brilliant episodes.

    October 25th, 2009 at 8:37 pm

  3. I also agree with john the lines are getting blurred – I saw a Pew study that showed Jon Stewart tied with Anderson Cooper and Brian Williams as the #4 spot people got their news.

    October 26th, 2009 at 7:13 am

  4. You are right on the money with this post, keep up the good work!

    April 12th, 2010 at 10:46 am