The State of the Media: A Millennial’s View

I’ve been sitting on this article for over a week hoping it’d maturate into a brilliant masterpiece, but it hasn’t. So, why today? Erika Napoletano wrote an open letter to the media following the firestorm of shock tactics flung onto the Internet in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy. She gets it too. The need I felt to start BoomerangBeat and the love/hate relationship I’ve developed with the media were echoed in her post. However, I add another layer to the rant. So thank you, Erika, for inspiring me to finally post my own letter.

So I ask: will you help us learn, encourage us to listen, and remind us that there is a story behind each face, bloodstain, horrific incident, gun owner, Muslim family, and child’s smile? – Erika Napoletano

When I first started toying with the idea for BoomerangBeat I imagined a news outlet geared toward the Millennial generation. However, working through the first two posts I realized my goal isn’t to tailor information in the direction of current Millennial interest (as the name might suggest); it’s purpose is to facilitate learning in a way modern society needs  – quick, simple, truthful, and beneficial

I’m frustrated with the media. There seem to only be two options when it comes to reporting to the public  – long form journalism and empty calories.

I have a deep respect for the deteriorating art of traditional journalism and storytelling, but it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t favor the busy or the uninformed.

The empty calorie pieces are littered with humor, pop culture, blood and gore, or the too oft Breaking News: No Pope Chosen so-let’s-watch-for-20-minutes-as-his-helicopter-hovers-above-the-Vatican-so-we-don’t-miss-a-thing bullshit. Entertaining? Sure. Sustainable? No.

In the last ten years we’ve redefined breaking news from “happened yesterday” to “happened less than fifteen seconds ago.” The next order of magnitude will be prohibitively expensive and (most of the time) not particularly useful. Better, I think, to hustle in the other direction and figure out how to benefit from well-understood truth instead of fast and fresh rumor. – Seth Godin

The Millennial generation has come of age in a world where the media functions as a megaphone for complex news issues more than they do as interpreters, helping us contextualize and understand. Pew Research Center’s State of the Media 2013 addresses this issue directly.

This is a problem because as a member of this generation, I’ve often seen and felt the wrath of the finger pointing habit of older generations. We’re pegged as a group of out of touch, irresponsible, and ignorant individuals that care more about Facebook and celebrities than we do about politics and current affairs.

Maybe this is true but it circles back to my problem with the state of the media …

Though genuine efforts have been made by some to help us, we don’t need another platform regurgitating popular headlines. Technology has already allowed us to customize our alerts, Facebook walls and Twitter streams. As Doug Fisher said it best, “We can get the ‘more’ if we want it very easily. If the media wants our loyalty and engagement, the formula isn’t more, it’s better.”

If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. – Ignacio Estrada

This is my goal with BoomerangBeat. I’m not the best writer and as Erika said, I’m throwing AP style out the window, but I’m trying to change a landscape I’m unhappy with.

And though I may be raising my hand with a slightly different problem than what Erika, Seth or the Pew Research Center are raising their hands for, I think the overall message to the media is the same – enough.

Building a Blog: The Why Factor

Finding your Why Factor – today, mine hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve thought about it several times before but it felt like I was trying to nail jello to a wall … I couldn’t quite get it.

I think the Why Factor is important because it gives you clarity and for me, freed me from a very odd struggle I was dealing with. The Why Factor doesn’t have to be short, one-dimensional, multi-dimensional or perfectly unique. You just need to know why. Focus on finding yours.

BoomerangBeat’s Why Factor

I found my “why” for BoomerangBeat today in its simplest form.

Young People and the Media

source: @MartinBelam

I don’t believe Mr. Belam was calling the younger generation ignorant as much as he was saying that’s how the media will spin the story from the ask. I hope so, anyway.

However, if that is the case, there’s still a problem. If the media continues to berate a generation that doesn’t know (and therefore asks), when is that generation going to stop feeling stupid for not understanding? Never.

Or worse, when will they stop asking?

For now, they are asking though and that’s half the battle. Why not use that opportunity more to teach and less to criticize? Help connect the dots so the “ignorant” generation can understand the story as it’s happening and its references down the road.

The rest of the pie chart, I think, accurately depicts the sheer number of stories and chatter that pop up every minute a breaking news story hits. Is it any wonder the younger generation doesn’t know how to navigate the white noise to find the facts that matter?

Building a Blog: The Details

I’m finally following a writing and design (learning Dreamweaver) schedule, but I’ve become so focused on the big things that I’ve ignored the bits and pieces that will really bring it all together. Since I have a horrible habit of writing things down here, saving them there, starting a draft post so I don’t forget type of habit, I collected and organized them in a more manageable way.

Below is my list of little to-do’s:

Technical Details

  1. SEO Yoast WordPress Plugin – very easy for blog and post optimization. If you don’t know basic SEO, start with the Beginner’s Guide to SEO
  2. RSS and email subscription
  3. Social sharing for each post (Like, Tweet, G+)
  4. Create my own social media buttons. I don’t much care for the generic ones. Add a step before this if you haven’t created profiles on various platforms, yet.
  5. Post comment system through Disqus
  6. Re-categorize uncategorized blog posts

Branding Details

  1. Create a blog style guide.
  2. Organize my post ideas journal – I use love Springpad
  3. Flesh out my design inspiration sources – to avoid looking like a replica of your competition, they should not come from the same industry
  4. Refine my blog’s purpose statement (tag line, core message, whatever you call it)
  5. Google+ authorship
  6. Upload favicon

Content Details

  1. Study the competition and follow
  2. Play with new content formats (shorter posts, video, scan-able content)
  3. Finish my rant and then ask for an outsider’s point of view. This is meant to complement my purpose statement.
  4. Re-evauluate content schedule (editorial calendar) – I use Google Calendar
  5. Create a lead statement for all “Building a Blog” so people know what I’m referring to when I mention BB

Check out BoomerangBeat, am I missing something? What are the most important details  you use to make your blog stand out?

Building a Blog: Finding Your Core Message

Building a Blog: Finding Your Core Message

Last week I wrote about my identity crisis surrounding BoomerangBeat and just as if they heard me, the Entrepreneur gods graced me with an article on the importance of finding focus in your core message.

BB’s current tag line doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve known this since I pseudo-settled on it when creating my header’s first draft. However, the back and forth game wore me out and I threw this up there:

Building a Blog: Focusing on the Core Message

Because BB’s title isn’t descriptive, and because the Entrepreneur article slapped me across the face, I realized this is something I need to get right, not something to be thrown up anywhere.

For too long, I focused BB on being a news outlet for the Millennial generation but working through the first two posts I realized my goal isn’t to aim my news in the direction of Millennial interest, it’s purpose is to deliver important issues in a, well, more underwhelming manner (a breaking news story every minute is anything but).

I don’t want to get too into it here, but if you read my passion piece on the issue I have with the state of the media, you’ll gain a better understanding of why I started BoomerangBeat and what it’s meant to be. If you do read it, I would love your feedback or any ideas you have for BB’s core message.

Did you have any concerns when creating your core message and communicating that quickly and effectively to your readers?