The Media Leaders Community session was a closed session with the CEOs and editors from the top media organizations. The representatives were all people who struggled with the issues of running a media business while trying to maintain editorial integrity. A variety of regions and organizational structures were represented including TV, magazines, newspaper, for profit and non-profit.
The session was held in a circle and was broken into two session. I was one of the few "outsiders" who were invited to participate, my chance to open my mouth was the second session. the first session was, "The Double Life and Information Ethics: The Challenge of Managing News and People" and the second session was, "Rethinking the Net – Internet Media Strategy, Wireless, Bloggers and Others."
Generally speaking, the media leaders talked a lot about the struggle to maintain editorial integrity in a world of increasing government and advertiser pressure. Clearly, the business of running media companies conflicted in many ways with editorial integrity. There was some debate about whether embedded journalism in the war was a good thing or a bad thing and the role of TV, photojournalism and print. One the one had, the need for TV to have images caused them to jump at the opportunity to send in cameras with the troops. It was argued that the good media were able to use these assets without compromising their editorial integrity while others clearly were unable to retain their integrity.
It was interesting hearing about how important the hiring and mentoring of journalists was and how difficult it was to find serious journalists. Last night I had dinner with some serious journalists who covered war, pestilence, and other hard-core topics in very remote regions and was impressed by their vision and ethics. The ability for editors to find, vet then manage these journalists appears to be an art.
Everyone seemed quite enthusiastic about the Internet as a "good thing" but people were not sure about the business model.
People started talking about how they were measuring traffic and that's when I jumped in and talked about how traffic was a second order or third order analysis and that looking at who was linking to articles and who was linking to them and what they were saying was much more interesting than traffic.
I gave my standard rant about how the first person voice of bloggers can help people care about the issues and "assets" in under-covered regions can help the resource issues that media companies face.
They talked about the "noise" of the Internet and the brand of print media, but I explained that there were many ways that blogs managed reputation and that these tools continued to become more refined. I explained that some blogs played the role of journalist providing new content in specific focused areas, while other blogs provided the editor role with a broader focus linking to other blogs and media sites. I talked about triangulation and how choosing a few key blogs as your entry into your view of the Net was a very good way to get a balanced view of the traditional media, something that the point/counterpoint media currently has difficulty providing.
I explained that many of the media sites in other countries were receiving more visibility in the US and other countries from bloggers linking to them. I explained that media sites could do things like permalinks, trackbacks, ping pingers, syndication and other things to make them much more blog friendly. Being friendly with bloggers was going to be essential for them, I opined.
I think that I was generally well received and I think many of the participants will be reading blogs and looking at aggregators tonight.