Thursday, January 22, 2009

When organizations fossilize, they die

Thanks to colleague Chuck Peters for passing along a wonderful blog about why change is so important to keep organizations vibrant and alive. It couldn't be more relevant to newspapers where staffs struggle with the smallest inkling of change. The following excerpt comes from the blog "the brand builder" and notes the fragilty of ideas, and the need to keep experimenting and changing.

“I have never stabilized an organization. Crystallizing an organization is freezing the energy. In chemistry, instability is very good because it creates some combinations you don’t expect.”

“Without change, there is fossilization,and that’s the worst thing that can happen.”

“Ideas,are so fragile, so tenuous, that managers must destroy layers that can obscure or damage them. If you have an organization that is too administrative, you are just killing the ideas. As we say in France, when you ask a committee to draw a horse, you get a camel.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Following the Obama inauguration on Twitter, Facebook and text messaging

I nestled in to watch the inauguration from my vacation spot on the Georgia coast but did so with the help of some special correspondents. An old colleague was on the mall in Washington sending me updates on Twitter, another friend who works at National Public Radio (Tony Marcano) was there sending me photos via Facebook (that's his picture with this story) and a third (Supervisor Michael Rubio) was filling me in via text message on my phone. All of which added additional elements of color and drama that made the moment much more than a one dimensional interface with my TV. Newspapers and their websites need to find ways to capture and embrace this kind of technology less they become even more irrelevant as a forum that provides "yesterday's news today."

Monday, January 19, 2009

User-generated content (UGC): get used to it

Newsrooms across America are wringing their hands and fretting about the dreaded question over the value of user-generated content. I have news for them: get used to it. The days of newsrooms setting the agenda are over, and in fact there are myriad examples of UGC that are more compelling than anything one might read in their local newspaper. Here are two examples, both dealing with niche topics where UGC flourish. The first is a blog written out of Washington D.C. devoted to learning the guitar ( It's refreshing and wonderfully put together and relies on the wit of its author rather than its content. The second is a local Bakersfield website devoted to hard-core bicyclists. Written by retired endodontist Dr. Robert Smith, is far less elegant in design but nonetheless is rich in content. If you are a cyclist in Kern County, it's a must read for information on rides, product recalls and local gossip. Both of these sites live outside the mainstream media and thrive, and it's time newsrooms recognize the power of UGC and its contribution to local media.