Metaphors: special

A supermarket for news
Robert Allbritton, quoted in Paul Farhi’s making its move into the crowded market of local news, from The Washington Post

Right now, [getting local news on the Web] is like trying to buy groceries in the old country. First you went to the fishmonger, then to the baker, then the grocer and so on. And it worked until someone said, “Why don’t we create a supermarket and put it all together in one place?”

News judo
David Rothman’s TBD’s hyperlocal judo is smart and ethical: How should rivals at the Washington Post and elsewhere respond to all the linking ahead?

In judo, you can use a big guy’s weight against him, and the same applies in busi­ness, especially the news kind.

Reading the Washing ton Post story on the TBD local news startup — which will compete against the Post, AOL’s Patch local net work and the Washington Examiner — I couldn’t help but think “judo.”

Besides, in the end, the Post story today will have been just a sideshow despite its current benefits to TBD. The real judo will happen by way of a principle espoused by Jeff Jarvis, the media guru of BuzzMachine fame—in essence, Do what you do best and link to the rest. TBD’s own news staff is tiny, with just a dozen or so actual reporters and a small band of editors. So, to try to compensate, TBD will be regularly linking not just to the Post but also to the Examiner and Patch, which has drawn more than a few dollops of money from America Online.

Tom Sawyer as newsboy
Mark Potts’ Why TBD is Important

As it develops, I think TBD is going to prove a model for other local efforts around the country. It understands something very fundamental, something that once upon a time, a group of us referred to it as the Tom Sawyer strategy: when you’re working with limited resources, use them to the maximum–and turn to the rest of the Web for help with filling in the blanks.

A Coal-mine canary for news
Jack Mirkinson’s A First Day Look, from the Huffington Post

Why is so much attention being paid to a local news site? Well, TBD is something of a canary in the coal mine. The news industry is desperately searching around for new journalistic and business models, and local news has been seized upon as a potential savior. Local, so the thinking goes, is where the money’s at — where you can offer people something they can’t get anywhere else. This explains the rise in so-called “hyperlocal” coverage, which hones in with intensive zeal on the day-to-day happenings in neighborhoods and regions.

Metaphors: lawns and mass extinction

Mass extinction
Alan Mutter’s Journicide: A looming, lost generation of scribes

But the loss of a substantial portion of what would have been the next generation of journalists also will be tragic for society. The loss will deprive citizens in the future with the insights that only can be delivered by dedicated professionals with the time, skills and motivation to dig deeply into difficult stories.

Jeff Jarvis’s Get off the lawn

What we need is a level lawn where the tender shoots of these new businesses can grow without government trampling them on its way to try to protect the legacy players.

Metaphors: Adam and Eve, horny teens, Titanic (again)

Priests, or going down with the Titanic
Jeff Jarvis, paraphrasing Howard Owens in The real sin: Not running businesses

Like priests looking for someone to sacrifice, Alan Mutter, Steve Buttry, Howard Owens, and Steve Yelvington have been on the lookout for the sin that led newspapers astray. For Mutter, it’s not charging; for Buttry, it’s not innovating; for Owens, it’s tying online dingies to print Titanics (my poetic license); for Yelvington, it’s inaction.

Teenagers experimenting with sex
David Armano, paraphrased in the Charlotte Observer

Keynote speaker David Armano told a spillover crowd that businesses on social media today are like teenagers experimenting with sex: They don’t know what to do, but they really want to do it. Then they’re disappointed when they finally get to do it.

Original Sin
Alan Mutter’s Mission possible? Charging for web content (with bonus TV Show title joke cliche)

It is going to be just as tough for publishers to overcome their Original Sin as it has been for mankind to get past the original Original Sin committed when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit.

Steve Buttry’s Newspapers’ Original Sin: Not failing to charge but failing to innovate

Mutter is right that newspapers are still paying for an Original Sin committed in the early days of the Internet, but he (along with the AP story and lots of newspaper executives today) chose the wrong sin.

Howard Owens’ The Newspaper Original Sin: Keeping online units tethered to the mother ship (with bonus spaceship metaphor giving it a Scientology quality)

The Original Sin was? Failure to create separate business units for online.

Steve Yellvington’s Original sin? I don’t think so, but ….

Having been on more than one side of that question, and having been one of the originals, I categorically reject the notion of any “original sin.”

Unless, of course, you think inaction is a sin.

Metaphors: Waves, Coral Reef, Planets and Goliath

You can read the premise behind this in the orginal news metaphor post, which was linked to by Jim Romenesko, Jay Rosen and The New York Times‘ David Carr, among others. That post has grown unmanageably large so I’ve created a category for it. You can still suggest metaphors via e-mail, Twitter, Publish2 (tagged “newsmetaphors”) or the comments.

Pushing Back at the Ocean
Steve Outing’s No solution to news problems? Hah!

The newspaper industry is seeing bankruptcies, layoffs, the loss of serious watchdog journalism, and a sickening decline in quality because of the “situation.” While a sour economy is clearly a big part of the problem, the biggest problem is that the industry’s leaders seem to think there are no good solutions other than wading in the ocean and pushing back the waves (i.e., tectonic changes in consumer behavior and advertiser spending patterns).

A Coral Reef
Jay Rosen and Dave Winer’s Rebooting the News podcast No. 12

(I haven’t had a change to pull the exact quote. I will.)

Planets in Orbit
Dan Pacheco’s Newspapers Need A Galileo

It’s not that different from the geocentric view of the universe that Galileo correctly identified as false, but the Catholic Church fought until the bitter end. Likewise, newspapers, and many large media companies, still assume that they are at the center of the local universe, when in fact they’re really planets spinning around suns which orbit galaxies. They still have an important role, but until they realize that they’re one part of a larger system they’re operating out of an illusion.

David and Goliath
Charles Arthur’s David v Goliath in the newsroom, and why we need new wrappers for journalism

OK: now see the publishers of Gizmodo, Engadget, Gawker, TechCrunch et al as the Davids, fighting the Goliaths of the New York Times and, of course, the Guardian and all the other papers. Should they fight on the same terms? If they want to get beaten, sure. They’ll never be able to find the experienced journalists, the experienced sales people, the special something that the papers have been able to build up over decades. The papers have the news process down pat. They can get those stories into paper-sized parcels and out to people so effectively there’s no room left.

So the blogs have to create their own battlefield, their own rules, and fight there.

Armies of Unequal Strength
Jeff Jarvis’s David, Meet Goliath

Right. They have things to learn from each other if they can stop sniping long enough to notice how few of them are left standing on the battlefield. But their culture expectations get in the way. To continue Charles’ war metaphor: It’s the Redcoats vs. the rebels; the GIs vs the Vietcong. When the new guy breaks the rules, protesting that they’re doing it wrong does no good. Learn. That’s what I was trying to say.