I was invited to speak at Jeff Pulver’s #140Conf in New York today. Jeff has done a very good job of galvanizing a community of interesting people. Not necessarily media types, not necessarily attention-seekers, just interesting people. I had hoped this would resonate across disciplines. I believe it has.
Why I’ve Left TV News …For Now
Delivered June 16, 2011
92nd Street Y, New York City
It’s an effing cat in an effing tree! I was a local TV reporter and that’s how I described on the phone to my wife the story I was assigned to cover.
And it wasn’t just an effing cat in a effing tree: it was a cat that had been in the tree and splashed on the front page of a major newspaper for three days. Even after the cat came down and scampered away – because after all, that’s what cats do, it was still a story on the 5 o’clock news that night.
So yes, I guess I was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it. That was my Howard Beale moment.
It’s certainly among the tabloid-style headlines I would’ve loved to have seen (and maybe I missed) for a story questioning one’s military service, but I can’t take any credit for it. I noticed it in a comment left by ‘meridenite’ on the Hartford Courant‘s piece about
…wait for it…
…wait for it…
whether or not Richard Blumenthal was actually captain of the swim team at Harvard, or was actually on the team, or even dipped a toe in a Cambridge pool during that era. Let alone what counts as ‘the team’.
So you can see where this is going: Over-reporting an over-reported story does not suddenly prove you’re on the case.
The story of Richard Blumenthal and the way he “misspoke” (or “lied” or “mischaracterized”, depending upon whom you ask) when it came to his Vietnam-era service record has to do not just with politics, but to a greater extent, with problematic journalism. Misrepresentation by someone believed to be trustworthy is the issue — whether that’s a politician or a newspaper.
(By way of background: Blumenthal is the Attorney General in Connecticut, a Democrat, and is running for the Senate seat soon-to-be vacated by Chris Dodd. Linda McMahon, who helped create World Wrestling Entertainment, is the front-runner on the Republican side. I was, until January, a journalist in Connecticut for more than eight years.)
The New York Times came out swinging, and I count two strikes against them.
Here’s the thing, Ford car dealership that shall remain unnamed: We don’t know each other.
Same for you, local police department who sent me a friend request. It’s not that I don’t like you, your cars or the job you do. I just don’t get what you’re hoping to accomplish here.
The whole idea of Facebook is to connect people to one other. I’m even kinda okay with it connecting random people to one another, but not anonymous accounts for cities, businesses, or organizations – with full names squeezed into first and last name boxes. That’s what fan pages are for. And that’s a sign that it has taken on too large a role in our culture – become too crowded.
I would consider becoming a fan of a restaurant I really like… and then my friendship has some value to both of us. It has some legitimacy in fact. I would even consider accepting a friend request from the general manager of the car dealership I bought my last car, assuming it wasn’t a lemon. But a car dealer that can claim it has 500 Facebook friends doesn’t mean a thing if none of those folks have or will buy a Ford.
The use of technology in unintended ways can be terrific. It can also reach a tipping point. If you want to embrace the latest social media tool to enhance your business, awesome. But let’s try to use it in the way it was intended. You’ll get more meaningful results.
Thanks, Tom Petty, for summing up today’s news in a song.
If you have yet to peek at your 401k statements, your mutual fund balance or your brokerage account cost basis — don’t. I made the mistake of just seeing how some money I’d put away was doing, and it’s just depressing.
More so, though, is where we are. The collective we. We. Are. Floundering.
It’s telling that the dow dropped 777 points the day the House rejected the initial bailout bill. It’s more telling that it dropped 170 or so the day it finally did pass. And now today, when you’d think Wall Street would react with an ounce of “thanks, we’ll take it from here,” we get another record drop.
My fear is that it will take another decade to recover. On November 5th, we might see a small uptick in the market – but we’ll surely not be on the right path for a long while. And in the meantime?
I worry that those who’ve put away money that they’ll need in the next decade will have not come out ahead. Even those who’ve invested as wisely as possible, are struggling. And the worst part is: We might not have seen the bottom yet.
On that cheery note, I can’t help but be reminded of… Eh, forget it. There’s nothing I can say that will be upbeat. Except, that those of us socking away a mortgage payment each month — just know that even if your home is devalued now, it’s still one of the smartest investments. And that’s saying a lot.
This morning I was thinking: How nice would it be to gather a few friends together to watch the McCain/Obama slug-fest Friday night? We’d make it a fun drinking game — maybe a shot each time McCain’s POW status was mentioned, a swig when either candidate used the word “change” (tho, my liver quickly objected to that idea).
Then, by this afternoon, McCain said, “thanks, but no thanks” to the first debate. Unless an economic bailout deal can be reached by then. (Read about it here.) He’s “suspending” his campaign. Sort of.
This evening, there’s more speculation flying around than bullets at a Wasilla moose farm: Maybe McCain’s trying to show he’s more “Presidential”. Maybe he’s trying to move the debates back so one (the VP, as the pundits punditted) would have to disappear. Maybe he’s lost his marbles. Or my thought, he knows a deal will be struck by Friday, so he can do this and look heroic when the debate goes on as scheduled. Who really knows?
The one thing that impresses me is how it, sort of, came out of nowhere. There was no massive stock slide today, losing 1,200 points. There was no taunting from Obama about how McCain’s not treating the issue seriously. Nothing! — except an apparent phone call from Obama suggesting a joint statement.
This is what makes politics both inexplicably exciting and incredibly irritating. And now it’s forced me to announce: I have decided to suspend my campaign …for a Friday night debate-watching drinking party. You’re on your own.