Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

indispensable part ii –

I have worked with people who feel the medium in which they tell their stories is their identity. 

There is nothing wrong with this viewpoint.

It just has a limited lifespan these days,

It was once the case that you could spend your career in one medium, be it print, television or radio. You were born a newspaperman, and you died a newspaper man.

The giants of print ruled the news world like the tyrant lizard king ruled the Cretaceous Period. And this is not to say that the great news people are going extinct, it’s to say that much like T.Rex, they are facing an extinction event.

Rapid evolution, which still is more of a mythological ideology than a practice, is the only way that news can survive this cataclysm.

Information is slopping over the news wall like an overflowing toilet these days.  The population is increasing, everything is going viral. Information is omnipresent. 

In an effort to fill what is perceived to be a growing news hole, media organizations and journalists are tying one hand behind their back and jumping into the fray in an effort to inform an already over-informed populace. 

And yet the audience with a billion information choices lacks for real content. When a hobbyist Tweeting the local police scanner inadvertently breaks the news, media organizations scramble for the truth like carrion vultures on a carcass. And an already-informed populace goes about their busy lives. A journalist gets laid off, and another devil gets its horns. Melodramatic much?

One of my favorite journalists, G.K. Chesterton, once wrote: “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” 

As a media organization, you can be just another voice in the cacophony, or you can stand out like a salmon jumping through a wall of white water to clear a hurdle in the stream. 

While too many are focusing on finding a new way to make money out of journalism, too few are looking at new ways to do journalism to meet the needs of the average viewer, listener, reader. 

They are becoming heavier, louder, more expensive and less indispensable today. 

But Mitt Romney is wrong. Corporations are not people. Media companies are not people. To turn a ship of that size, a massive enterprise made up of thousands of individual entities, into something indispensable is impossible on a grand scale.

Becoming indispensable today is on the micro level, not the macro level. It requires an infection that transforms one journalist at a time. Building a digital empire cannot be achieved without digital building blocks. 

Indispensability depends on individual transformation of each element of a media company. Producers, editors, writers, directors, reporters, anchors, hosts, copy editors, designers, photographers and artists each need to jump into the digital stream building their own tool sets and therefore contributing to the flow.

Thus connected, a media outlet may not only plug in to the digital mainframe, they may innovate within the construct as well as outside of it. 

If only a handful of people are digitally trained, they act as a support mechanism that will eventually have to break off to survive. 

True digital integration can only be achieved when the entire company is infected, at which point shoaling becomes possible. This is the art of coordinated movement among a large group of fish with little to no obvious communication.  

This flexibility and nimbleness is what will allow a news organization to become completely responsive, innovative and ultimately indispensable.

Tim

My Marathon Confession –

All this talk of running times has me thinking about my own experiences in the past and how I explain them today. 

For years, my wife and I told the same story regarding our marathon experiences. We recall having run the Portland Marathon in 2003, in a time of around 4 hours and 20 minutes. This is because I chose to eat a half a bagel offered up by a kind race volunteer. And the consequences were the sudden need to find a port-a-potty along the race route. I now get why most racers choose that partially digested goo.

A year after running the Portland Marathon, we decided to run the Honolulu Marathon to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary. It seems crazy, but a race followed by a week of lounging around in Waikiki, Maui and the Big Island seemed like a great idea back then. 

All these years later, we’ve been telling people that we raced the Portland Marathon in a time of 4:20, while we’ve been telling people that we ran Honolulu in a time of 5:30, or so. This was also due to an unfortunate potty stop. The lines for the port-a-potties out on the salt flats in Honolulu were 45 minutes, and Cheryl really had to go. This was because I was afraid of her getting dehydrated. I was constantly trying to get her to drink that nasty race juice they were giving out everywhere.

This morning I went into the archives known as the Internets. A place where lies, half truths and misremembered facts can be brought to light with the flick of a button. 

Turns out we’ve been telling the story wrong all these years. We didn’t actually run Portland in 4:20. It was 5:23:56, in fact.

 

How embarrassing, right? I feel as if I might need to go and retell the story to all my friends who I’ve been regaling with that story all these years. 

But then I went and looked up our Honolulu Marathon times. Turns out we ran that badboy not in 5:30, like we’ve been saying, but in 3:57:33, or so the Internets say. 

Does giving yourself a better time in one story and a worse time in another story mitigate the misremembered truth? 

Do I need to go undo this? Do I need to retell the story? 

We sat here this morning discussing this and realizing we have no memory of these actual times, just the vague memories of the elements of running a marathon. The times were actually inconsequential to the deeper truths we’ve been retelling about our marathon experiences. 

Paul Ryan proved that times do matter, even though the spirit of the story was not  as laser focused. He is a candidate for vice president of the United States of America, so I get that the laser beam of truth is focused directly at him. Well, OK, it’s focused directly at Mitt Romney, but it’s reflecting brightly on Mr. Ryan.

It seems to me an election used to be about character. And character is defined by the consistencies in one’s life. This is why lies have been brutal on politicians. Lies reflect the inconsistencies, even the once-in-a-lifetime inconsistencies. And these are of a great weight and they deduct rapidly from character. 

In looking at the way I’ve told the story of our marathons, I realize that we could easily defend our innocence in the passage of time and the inconsequential nature of the times in which we ran the races. But the truth is out there, kept digitally from a read out taken by a monitor that read a small chip attached to our shoes. 

We sometimes forget about the microchips we carry around with us. The mini data recorders that are ever present in our lives. And we craft stories in the way in which we want to be seen, not in the sometimes harsh glare of truthfulness. 

I haven’t fully processed all of this, but I do know one thing. I’ve got the Republican VP candidate beat by about 4 minutes.

Tim