Anthea Stratigos – April 21, 2016
A couple months back in the height of CA El Nino hype, my brother-in-law Mark got caught up in an impending mud slide which somehow he captured on video. I haven’t asked him why he has a video cam on his dash, but I’ll reserve that for another day. He sent a link to family, and shortly thereafter, he posted his near disaster on Facebook. Over the next couple of days the ‘viral thing’ happened and views of that video grew exponentially.
I still recall childhood teachers talking about exponential growth of populations and why the planet will implode under the load. I also remember this lesson from my father who taught me the power of compound interest rates. I’m now dating myself as the last time interest rates compounded I was about 13. But now this phenomenon happens on social media, the new currency. And over a two or three day period, suddenly Mark’s video went viral.
On about day three, just as the viral thing happened, there he was on the nightly news. NBC Nightly NEWS!!!
A month or so later I happened to watch said news again, and for some reason flipped from CBS to NBC, and on both, the closing (good feeling) story was about CopScotch, the video that went viral of the police officer playing hopscotch with a young girl. I love that guy. And here again, both networks picked up this story from a key ’source’ -social media.
And then ironically, an ’n’ of 3 occurred – another story of a similar nature. My analyst-mentors taught me years ago that a number that is triangulate for something that happens three times becomes a trend. It’s the Pareto principal of analysts. In this era of big data, it’s great to crunch gazillions of data points but sometimes the ’n’ of 3 is magic. But I digress and leave that for another day.
So, the third event came in the form of a completed book manuscript I’ve authored and have sent to various channels for publishing. One prospective agent said she loved the manuscript, but that I didn’t have a big enough ‘platform’ for book publishers to pay attention. Sheryl anyone? Adriana? DvF? Oprah? They tweet and they Facebook and they have followers galore. She suggested a mainstream publisher wouldn’t want me unless this was in place. Funny, used to be that was the publisher’s role – to discover amazing authors and give them a platform. Now, like the news outlets, they want to skim from what’s out there. The social becomes the grist they put thru their mill. Later, another professional told me that today’s book publishers want well–edited books – basically those that are ‘publish ready.’ Used to be a book publisher didn’t want a manuscript too refined as they wanted to put their editorial stamp on it.
So here I am observing in a matter of weeks that so-called authoritative sources, whether mainstream news outlets or book publishers that used to find the needles in the haystack, now expect key stories to be found on the open web. Their value-add used to be about discovery and distribution – giving a voice to things unheard and providing the outlet so they go mainstream; they built the platform.
Now what are they? It’s ironic that the story or the author needs a platform before these so-called ‘mass media’ will pick them up. I say game over before too long. As a longstanding analyst in the media space, we don’t see many 24 year olds watching the nightly news or wondering what Hachette, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, or Random House are waiting to skim off the open web to package and deliver. What value do they provide if they are accepting authors who have done all the work to create their followship and edit their own books?
So book publishing, yes. News stories, yes. But not by the old guard. Today’s readers and viewers are already on the open web. So best to self-publish – like that video cam on the dash.