Fool Me Twice…

My second board meeting at The New York Times Co., I made an impassioned (arrogant / belligerent / me) argument for turning off Google — not letting them crawl our data.

The worst business decision across print media firms of the last 50 years was to let Google access our data, because Stewart Brand said, “Information wants to be free.” What bullshit. Information doesn’t want to be free. Google wants you to give them your content for free. Information wants — like all of us — to be differentiated and expensive.

But we fell for it and let Google give us nickels for dollars as we let them slice and dice our content and sell it against search queries, which is 10x more valuable than running a banner ad at the top of the article. That doesn’t mean the NYT should be in the search business. However, I’ve pitched Jonathan Newhouse (uber impressive guy) and the Sulzbergers on the notion that all the big media families need to shut off Google and license all their content to one (the highest bidder) of the big platforms, and let the others be a sewer of fake news and cat pics. [POLL]

However, no luck / love / way, as they all want to be seen as “getting it” and continue to shortchange their future, debasing their content / brand on the most mass-market distribution. This further reduces the need to go to the publishers’ sites. It’s tantamount to Hermès selling through Walmart. These businesses have the wrong ethos, mistaking their business models for mass and a function of eyeballs, not dollars. They miss the fundamental value of their information. In fact, similar to Birkin bag, the value of their product is scarcity.

Notice how ESPN doesn’t let YouTube slice up their content and sell it next to Google AdWords? Why? Because they aren’t fucking stupid.

So, what lessons did we learn? None. Not satisfied with the near-death experience of being googled, publishers took the gun out of their mouths and began spraying bullets on their feet with Facebook’s Instant Articles program, which, according to data released this week, debases their brands and isn’t making any money.

The shit sandwich here is that having legitimate news next to fake news has only made the Facebook platform more dangerous. When standing in line at Krogers, your bullshit filter is in high gear and you suspect HiIlary isn’t an alien, despite what the Enquirer and other supermarket tabloids tell you. However, the presence of the NYT and WaPo on Facebook has only legitimized fake news. Fuck.

Dear Hearst, Sulzberger, Murdoch, Newhouse, Burda families:

Remove your heads from your asses. Google and Facebook are your frenemy, minus the friend part. Turn off Google / Facebook / Twitter / Snapchat, form a consortium, and command the space you occupy. Take a page from LVMH’s playbook regarding their presence on Amazon — specifically how they’re not present on Amazon.

Love Is All Around

I watched every one of the 168 episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show — with my mother, who, as a single working woman, identified with “Mary” (what my mom and friends called her). The show broke new ground with episodes discussing infidelity, divorce, homosexuality, and addiction. However, the breakthrough was portraying a single woman, on the wrong side of thirty, as an independent, shit-together protagonist.

Media’s value is joy. Its value-add is fostering empathy. The Mary Tyler Moore Show taught us that, even if a woman wasn’t married with kids, friends / humor / achievement could mean love was (still) all around.

And…

Sean Spicer’s first press conference was whiny / insecure / petty. However, his real crime was his poorly tailored suit. It was like staring at the sun. His next appearance on the podium, though, he strode confidently in his new threads. I empathized with Sean’s newfound pride — he was beaming. In the 11th grade, I spent $52 (serious money for me at 16) on an electric blue pair of cat-eye Vuarnets. I wore them in class, and I was AWESOME.

Life is so rich,
Scott

No Mercy / No Malice in Your Inbox.

Edit your preferences or unsubscribe