October 19, 2011

OWEN BRENNAN: The Beast That Ate The News Cycle.

Just three decades ago, network news reigned and big city papers set the news agenda. The veteran reporter John Stossel tells an interesting story about the most powerful of them all – The New York Times: “I saw this when I first went to Channel 2 (WCBS TV) and did local reporting. The assignment editor would just cut stuff out of the Times and say, ‘Here, go do that.’”

Compelling online video now has the potential for that same impact.

The New York Times still drives much of the news cycle – especially at legacy media like the CBS, ABC, and NBC. But its power has been challenged. A red-siren headline on the Drudge Report routinely shapes talk radio and cable news.

Similarly, our hapless mountain biker really reveals the ability of online video to hit the new scycle like an enraged antelope. Instead of clipping an article out of The New York Times or sending around a link to the big story, executive producers and assignment editors can now click on a video and say, “Here, go do that.”

The reason for the power of online video is simple. In the world of broadcast journalism, many live by the rule, “Show the best video first.” This means easy-to-access footage of some crazed beast in an exotic location knocking over a wayward biker is going to find a place on countless programs both national and local.

This is an important lesson as 2012 candidates, Tea Party people, think tanks and conservative media look toward November of next year. As the numbers reveal, online video has just become a mainstream medium and it is going to be a powerful weapon in this election cycle.

I think that’s right. 2008 was barely a warmup, and in 2010 the value was mostly in exploding dishonest reporting from Big Media. There’ll be more this time.

UPDATE: Speaking of this stuff: SETTING THE STAGE: #OWS Leaders Caught on Tape Orchestrating Mob Activity and Arrests (Videos).

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