Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

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.


"many of the participants will be reading blogs and looking at aggregators tonight."

mmm, there's no dancing party out there tonight? ;-)

Funny... thinking in particular two British newspapers as a comparison.

The Guardian understands googlejuice. The Daily Telegraph does not. Which is why, even though The Telegraph is politically more aligned with the average American, The Guardian is far more influential.

-"Influential in America", I meant to say ;-)

Thanks, Joi, for bringing a clear and important voice into an inner circle of people who no doubt are struggling with the transitions you outline.

If some of them spend even a bit of time investigating blogging more, and with mind less fettered with existing conventional wisdom, they may find some evidence of evolution of the ways people become informed, and participate in being informed.

"media sites could do things like permalinks, trackbacks, ping pingers, syndication and other things to make them much more blog friendly."

It seems so logical, yet I've never heard anyone else advocate these great ideas before. Perhaps bloggers incorrectly assumed it was hopeless to get the big media conglomerates to change. Regardless, the online journalism content providers that implement these features well will gain a great deal of respect from bloggers for being more accomodating and more posts because we can discuss their articles easier.

Good on you to point out the importance of the blogsphere to traditional media outlets to provide relevance and insight. Large aggregators (full disclosure, I work for one of them, Factiva) have a tremendous opportunity to provide ways for bloggers to link to material in their subscription databases. The trouble is, many bloggers do not have the funds for a subscription and are worried that their readers will not want to be prompted for a password. I'm struggling with how to get the "network effect" off the ground in a way that's acceptable to both the subscribers, aggregators, and publishers in a way that is beneficial and economically sustainable. I'm open to ideas.

IBM is currently pushing a technology called WebFountain, which essentially crawls the web, parses through documents, and distills information such as "who's talking about your compmany and industry", what they are saying, and so forth. They say that it can help a company manage its "reputation" online, but there's no reason that this tool couldn't be used to discover and analyze popular opinion on any topic.

Disclaimer: I don't work for IBM. I just have their brochure on my desk.


You have mentioned before that you have a desire to become a better writer. In this post you use the words "explained" and "opined" as though they are interchangeable. They are not. This may be rather pedantic, but you know I dont share your semi-utopian views on blogging. I'd like to suggest that when you are expressing opinion rather than fact you choose words which more clearly demonstrate the difference between the two.

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Joi Ito has an article in his blog today about the Media Leaders Community Session at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He is pushing them to start considering how the Internet, and in particular, Blogging, influence the mass media... Read More