Rethink carefully.

I’m posting the following as a comment on the Mercury News Rethink blog in response to Jay Rosen’s call for input as to how a Merc beatblogger on green technology could have covered the “Al Gore joins Kleiner Perkins” story this week.

I’m going to throw a monkeywrench at the Rethink works here, just to air out something that’s obvious to anyone who reads both the Merc and a raft of blogs about things like Silicon Valley, venture capital, and green technology.

This is part of the problem that Rethink and Matt Nauman’s role as a beatblogger will need to solve:

Merc reporters get their butts handed to them by blogs on a regular basis.

I don’t mean to put any reporter down when I write that, but the Merc’s audience for stories like “Al Gore joins Kleiner Perkins” read the story hours — sometimes days — earlier in their feed reader.

In fact, the Merc used to have the best blog on the topic — Silicon Beat — before Matt Marshall and company left the newspaper and it was reborn as Venture Beat, which I subscribe to, regularly reading timely, clear, well-researched reporting on green tech in the Valley.

Add to the mix the sources that fuel TechCrunch, Scoble, Engadget, Gizmodo, and even the swarm of rumor-powered Apple-adjacent blogs, and you get a social network that is well ahead of the Merc’s curve.

In my opinion, the Rethink strategy of a renewed emphasis on business and technology in Silicon Valley is a Quixotic exercise.

But I don’t live on their side of the hill, and I didn’t hand out Starbucks cards in front of Fry’s in an extended but informal Newspaper Next market research project, and I didn’t talk to their readers to find out what they want from their local paper.

If it were up to me, I’d take a rethought Merc in a direction heavy on neighborhoods and light on beats that already get saturated with blog coverage.

I’m off-topic, and I didn’t answer Jay’s question yet, so here’s how I think this fits into the beatblogger framework:

A Mercury News beatblog+network on green technology should aggregate the best of what’s already out there in the wild. Trying to shoehorn sources on this beat into temporary roles as ‘commenters’ or ‘members’ of a network or ‘friends’ or ‘fans’ won’t go as far in the long run as linking out to them. Don’t try to duplicate an existing network already saturated with coverage.

Today’s Blog Music / The Hype Machine – discover, listen and buy music discussed on the best mp3 blogs

This is the music blog aggregator I’ve been looking for, because I’m too damn lazy to find people who blog about music I like, and I’m simply out of touch with anyone other than my two or three favorite bands. via Rex.

Today’s Blog Music / The Hype Machine – discover, listen and buy music discussed on the best mp3 blogs

If you don’t get unbundled media, you’re not selling attention*

Command-and-control, top-down, masthead mass media is dead.


It’s over, and the readers/users/viewers won.

And without getting all “Information wants to be free,” I’ll just say that if you don’t get what Howard** and Zac are talking about here, it’s time for you to start understanding it.

Take Howard’s advice, young journalists:

“Blogs should be a daily routine for every dedicated journalist. They should read every blog related to their beats. They should read blogs about their own interests and hobbies. They should read blogs about their profession. To get blogging is to get how things have changed.”

Read blogs. Read everything you can get your eyes on about what you’re passionate about, whether it’s your beat or not. Are you into a concept, a game, a book, a movie, a tv show, a political candidate, a business? Really get into it.

Stop reading all those press releases in your inbox and find a slate of blogs that tell you things you need to know, everyday, to know everything about that one thing you’re passionate about.

Take Zac’s words to heart, newspaper publishers:

“Brand isn’t a name anymore. Brand is interface. Flickr is a dumb name. So is Twitter. So is Google. But we’re not looking for a name. We’re looking for usefulness. We’re looking for content. We’re looking for what we want.”

We’re looking for what we want.

Exactly. We don’t care what the name at the top of the page says, we’re your neighbors, and we’re looking for information, or entertainment, or a diversion — this isn’t new. This is why readers pick up a newspaper, in any form.

*Huh? Selling attention? What was that supposed to mean?

**Full disclosure: Howard is my new boss.

House panel approves legal shield for bloggers – CNET

Not as great as it sounds. Basically says that bloggers are journalists IF they make money “or livelihood” — if they take ads. Not sure how detailed the language is, because my blog has certainly been a factor in getting “livelihood.” via Dave W.

House panel approves legal shield for bloggers – CNET