What the Hell Does ...


I enjoy studying journalism.

When it comes to business communications, journalists are the masters at storytelling. Highlighting this point, I came across the following from a New York Times review on the new Richard Nixon biography last week:

“The similarities between Nixon and Trump leap off the page like crickets.There is, first and most superficially, their nonpresidential looks — Trump with his roosterly combover, Nixon with jowls so low they formed an A-frame with his nose. More substantively, there’s the matter of their Old Testament fury at the news media. (“The press is the enemy,” Nixon told his aides. “Write that on the blackboard 100 times and never forget it.”)

We can learn from journalists, particularly when it comes to developing content that the audience will care about. I also feel that there are times when it’s appropriate to take journalism to task. Here’s a curation of such posts:

Is This the Future of Newspaper Video?

Newspapers have been trying to shift to video for years. It’s been a tough transition, and for good reason.

The skill set for video is different. The mentality — a spoonful of entertainment helps the storytelling go down — is different.

Equally important, video calls for the journalist to take a collaborative approach to the storytelling. It’s not enough to think in terms of visuals and actions that advance the story. The journalist must team with producers, videographers, graphic designers, audio engineers, illustrators and other specialists to bring video to life.

The New York Times’ grasp of these concepts comes out in this video on WeChat, the social media platform that dominates the China market.



U.S. Journalists Poke “the Bear with a Digital Stick”

The Columbia Journalism Review published an open letter to President Trump. We already know what Trump thinks of journalists. Let’s put it this way. His campaign rhetoric never included the slogan, “Make journalism great again.”

Donald Trump Tweet

And we now know what journalists think of Trump.

Nothing like a little word judo in putting together a narrative:

“We’re playing the long game. Best-case scenario, you’re going to be in this job for eight years. We’ve been around since the founding of the republic, and our role in this great democracy has been ratified and reinforced again and again and again. You have forced us to rethink the most fundamental questions about who we are and what we are here for. For that we are most grateful.”


What Happens to Journalism When It’s all About the Bass

I have a theory around the 3 percent rule. It means that in any given profession — including journalism and PR — 3 percent of the people are extraordinary, 3 percent of the people are dreadful and the rest fall somewhere in between.

Bad journalism happens as reflected in this Business Insider article on “Chick-fil-A”:

Business Insider Chick Fil A article

Unfortunately, this “turn-the-crank” mentality to generate a relentless stream of articles drives the journalism at many media properties.


Here We Go Again. The Downfall of Journalism Traces to the Rise of PR

PR makes a convenient whipping boy for journalism.

It gets to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if journalists pointed to PR as the culprit behind global warming.

This post breaks down the fallacy of journalists blaming PR for the decline in journalism jobs and the disparity in pay.


Do the Best Business Storytellers on the Planet Have Shoes?

I’ve already established the storytelling chops of journalists.

But how do publications grade out in their own corporate communications?

To answer this question, I selected a cross section of media properties known for fresh narratives and writing that attracts word geeks:

  • The New Yorker
  • The New Republic
  • The Onion
  • The Atlantic
  • Slate
  • Mother Jones
  • Recode
  • Diginomica
  • Ars Technica

Then, I evaluated each media property’s “About” (or equivalent) section based on the following characteristics:

  • Tell a story
  • Atypical first sentence
  • Conversational language
  • Word choice
  • Differentiates

Very disappointed to see one of my favorite reads, The New Yorker, flunk the test.The New Yorker storytelling scorecard

Today’s journalism landscape is like none other.

The guy with the “roosterly combover” (to borrow from NYT journalist, Jennifer Senior) has changed everything in a way that transcends politics.

Bad for the country, but it does guarantee a never-ending stream of fodder for blog posts.


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