ethanbeute

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Tag: publisher

Good News: You Get to Decide What’s “News!”

A couple experiences demanded of me this post, though I fear I the question won’t be answered here due to complexity and variance.

First: lingering thoughts about my recent post about ForbesLife magazine, in which advertising functions as actual content.  What is normally seen as interrupting noise seems to be a legitimate value add in that publication, which is why I identified it as kin to bridal and fashion mags.  How far does that phenomenon extend?

Second: the first comment on a video I posted on the News First 5 (local NBC affiliate) Facebook page – “this is still news?”  That, in response to a piece of video that was broadcast 36 hours earlier about a victim fighting off a pair of would-be home invaders about 48 hours earlier.  If you follow the link, you’ll see my unnecessary, but polished defense.

So, what is news? In the first scenario, it’s advertising.  In the second, it’s extremely perishable.  There are nearly as many answers to the question as there are people to give it consideration.

Those answers, though, are decreasingly dependent upon or influenced by the one-time gatekeepers who produce and sell a traditional form of “news.”

action news, TV news, television news, news, local news, graphics, live local latebreaking

Action News!

I’ll spare us all the rote litany of tired criticisms (think “if it bleeds it leads”) that have been lobbed at mainstream media for decades.  I’ll take a short cut straight to: you get to decide what’s news.

House fire or traffic accident in a part of town I’ve never visited?  Not news.  Big sale at a retail shop or new location of a restaurant I occasionally patronize?  Definitely news.

((Off-topic, but worth noting here: Action News is all over the former, but won’t touch the latter.  The former’s a consequence of broadcasting to an anonymous mass of people whose only definite common trait is that they share a defined geographical territory.  The latter’s a consequence of a “church and state” separation of advertising and content creation to erect and defend an idealized notion of objectivity.))

Want to follow attention-getting, dramatic story lines this election season?  Want to understand more truly the issues and candidates instead?  Totally your call either way.

See?  You get to decide.

You get to choose from an increasing array of sources through an increasing number of channels.  You get to pick what to read and what not to read.  You get to determine what to see and what not to see.  Viable information consumption options range from spoon-fed to ultimate control.

So why a common body of “news?”  Agenda setting remains an influencing factor.  Every other outlet chasing down whatever one of them shows interest in means many of us will read or see the same things.  The dispersal of the one Associated Press story across several hundred news sites also assures a common base of news.  The incessant retweets of the moment’s celebrity death spread insanely fast as they jump across different social channels, at least in part due to the self-important rush to “beat” the wire.  If the use of all sources, channels and stories was charted by consumer or consumer groups, the boolean overlap is what’s generally regarded as “news.”

To the degree I control my consumption, I define news as information previously unknown or perceived differently that possesses one or more of three characteristics:

  • Important: big things that happen about which I should probably know – things beyond my control that affect me or people I love in a significant way
  • Helpful: information upon which I can act or through which I become more prepared for what’s next – makes me “better” in some way for having learned it
  • Remarkable: the kind of thing I’d pass along to a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker – because it’s unexpected, hilarious, fascinating, outrageous or similar

But that’s just me.  Have you a definition for “news?”

Giving Them Away for Free

I produce a Flickr photo stream.  I periodically go through it to delete photos at which no one has looked.  Right now, there are about 2,200 photos up.  I set up a little widget here in the left column that randomly grabs and displays a photo from the stream.

Over the couple/few years I’ve been putting up photos, I’ve received eight or ten requests from proper publishers seeking permission to use one or more of these photos.  Several of them are web-based guides.  One was a publisher of lake, river and stream maps.  One was a publisher of books and videos about weird and interesting things across this great nation.

I’d forgotten about that last one … until yesterday.  I received a box in the mail; I could tell it contained a book by its size, dimensions and weight.  I figured it was a book about Google Analytics that I ordered a few days ago.  Instead, it was Weird Colorado!

Weird Colorado, Weird U.S., Weird US, Mark Sceurman, Mark Moran, Charmaine Ortega Getz

Weird Colorado

My brand new, hardcover copy is personally inscribed with thanks and appreciation from “my pals,” Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran.

The Weird U.S. series has been around for years.  In addition to national and state-focused books, they’ve produced videos that aired on the History Channel.

Weird Colorado is written by Charmaine Ortega Getz.  At some point, they scoured the web for photos for inclusion in the book.  They came across some of mine.

They emailed to request permission to use my photos from Picketwire Canyonlands and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.  These areas were included for ancient rock art, sub-oceanic history, dinosaur footprints and fossilized plants, animals and insects.  They ended up using two of each (pages 46, 47 and 59).

These four photos are not among my most “interesting” according to Flickr; I’m glad they were useful to someone.  Here’s one of them – detail of a fossilized tree trunk at Florrisant Fossil Beds NM:

Fossilized Wood at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Fossilized Wood at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Though every photo in my Flickr stream is copyrighted, they’re free for the taking from a technology standpoint.  All sizes of every photo are available, from thumbnail through original size (approx 3,500 x 2,600 pixels).

I suppose I could try to track people down and attempt to recoup my share of any commercial gains.  Instead, I’m giving them away for free.

I tag every photo extensively to help people find them.  It’s fascinating to watch analytics on photo views and traffic sources.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • It’s produced 100% from personal passion
  • It does me no good to hoard them, hide them or lock them down
  • For those who use them, I expect they’ll remember where they got them and perhaps link back or let me know
  • Legit publishers will request permission and provide appropriate photo credit, acknowledgment and linking (and sometimes even the finished product!)

Related hopes include:

  • I hope people will enjoy some of the images as much as I do
  • I hope people will connect through imagery with the beautiful and interesting things in the world around them
  • I hope people will be inspired to go outside and maybe shoot some photos

My photo stream is generally outdoors-oriented.  Photos go up in specific groups or sets based on a trip, an outing or a shoot.  They’re always dated and tagged.  They’re up in reverse chronological order.  (Related music note: I strongly favor albums over singles).

I’d love for you to use an image as a desktop background or any other application you see fit.  Please share with me if and how you use an image.

Here are some of my most viewed and most commented photos: 

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/ethanbeute/popular-interesting/

Here is Weird U.S. at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weird_U.S.

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