Category Archives: Blogging

BuzzFeed Vs. “The New York Times”

Did content marketing kill American journalism?

For some time, leading news organizations have warned that the collapse of American journalism is bad for democracy. Some have cast about for a scapegoat, most recently landing on content marketers.

Who wins, journalism’s proponents ask, if everyone in the country has read “How Well Do You Know Taylor Swift’s Cat, Olivia Benson?” but no one knows the benefits and drawbacks of the Affordable Care Act a year after it was fully enacted?

BuzzFeedWebIt’s a good question.

The sad collapse of American newspapers over the past 10-plus years has created a vacuum; one that personal, professional, and corporate publishing platforms have rushed to fill — the most common being blogs like this one. The new self-publishing zeitgeist is captured in its purest form in the adage, “Every brand is a now publisher” — a gleaming promise on the horizon of potential and prosperity, if nothing else.

It takes real world form in multi-page advertorials by corporate America high fliers, from AT&T and Lexus to BP (formerly British Petroleum) — moves that, from-time-to-time, have stoked debates when done in bad taste or “Advertising” wasn’t clearly stamped across the header. Similar debates have bubbled to the surface about the appropriateness and labeling of “native ads,” and about a growing number of news and entertainment sites that combine social curation and original reporting, BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast among them.

meet-the-connected-consumer_502910c525130_w1500Influence in journalism

It’s also found its way into mainstream media through funding partnerships with corporations like the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation and through the collapsing wall that once separated, more or less, the news side of journalism from the marketing side, even at iconic publications like Time.

But in a class all its own (at least that I’m aware) is Chevron’s (unbranded) online newspaper, The Richmond Standard, which hired a real/former? (I’m not even sure what to call him) editor/reporter to cover Richmond, Calif. with the explicit understanding (wink, wink, nod, nod) that he wouldn’t bite the energy-conglomerate hand that feeds him. The move evokes a return to the days of the Dearborn Independent, when Henry Ford decided to buy a newspaper so that he could fill it with anti-semitic screed. If that doesn’t scare the crap out of Americans, nothing will.

So what is the threat to journalism? Is it content marketers and/or brand journalist, as some have suggested? That’s the gist of a series of recent attacks that blame them for driving journalism over a cliff, after all — attacks that are unfounded for several reasons, as I explained in a recent post. Content marketing is probably the least of the threats (if a threat at all) to journalism, consider the examples just cited — not to mention some I didn’t.

Follow the money trail

That brings us back to the question. Who benefits?

As a former San Francisco journalist, I was taught to follow the money. In every instance I’ve sited, business benefits. Business benefits. If that’s true, the debate between journalists and marketers is off base. It’s worse than that; it’s a diversion from the debate that, perhaps, we should be having about business, about ethics, about influence peddling, and, yes, about the roles of marketing and journalism.

What’s undeniable is that the content vacuum won’t be denied. As more people go online and mobile phones and wearable devices grow smarter, the demand will increase. The unyielding demands of consumers to have answers at their fingertips, and the advance of technology that allows marketers to serve ads based on a treasure trove of personal touchpoints, makes the future of content marketing and journalism more than secure. It makes them interdependent, just look the success of the Huffington Post and Mashable. The question is who can balance the “benefits.”

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.


Build Your Audience by Partnering With Active Content Creators

My advice? Work with those active posters to build a nexus between, say, the businesses district and area business, by cross posting events, images, and sales …

How to Unlock Your Website’s Potential By Tapping Some Else’s Audience

Use the right bait for your readersHow many of you have heard a manager or a marketer try to shoulder someone without a blog or Facebook account with the job of creating content for the organization’s website and/or it’s social media platforms?

How often do you think this happens? Rarely? Regularly?

I encountered it again recently when I was consulting for a business improvement district here in Oakland. But it occurs in education, government, and, I’m finding, especially among small business owners. It’s no wonder with limited funding and, often, a small staff.

“We’ve held several classes for the district’s business owners,” the director explained on a phone call. Ten or 12 business owners attended and learned about Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter. We told them how important it was to have a website. It didn’t make a difference. We’re thinking of holding some more classes.”

Don’t waste time

Two weeks in, I heard the same story from two more directors. Wait! Stop! Don’t do it! I hate to be the one to tell you. But you’re wasting your time. Why?

1) For starters, content marketing (which is what we’re talking about when we refer to website and social media marketing) isn’t about instant conversions. It’s not about cutting out a coupon and showing up at the door.

It’s about building trust that will put your business at the forefront of someone’s mind when they need the service your provide

2) For better or worse, content marketing takes effort, time, creativity, and, to be good at it, some training. Not an hour-long forum.

3) If someone hasn’t established a website and social media channels, a quick how-to course isn’t going to open the door. It’s more likely to confuse them.

Best case scenario

The comparable that comes to mind is networking. What do you do at a networking event? You shake hands, exchange business cards, talk about the challenges of what your new acquaintance does. You don’t expect your acquaintance to go back to the office and buy something from your website the next day. The best case scenario is that they’ll remember you when they need the service or good you offer or, perhaps, when they’re hiring for a position that fits your skill set.

If you threw someone into an event like that unprepared, they might just stand in the corner. Setting someone up with a website and social media channels who doesn’t know how to use them isn’t going to achieve the results they expect. They’ll be deflated and retrench to their past approach.

Find popular content

My advice? Look to who has an active website and social media channels. Start with the low-hanging fruit. Work with those active posters to build a nexus between, say the businesses district and area business, by cross posting events, images, and sales information. Assuming they already have a large readership, you’re organization’s website will benefit from the wider exposure. The businesses will benefit for the same reason.

With four, five, or eight businesses in the district posting, the ones with the most active online presence, of course, regular cross posting will drive the biggest gain with the least effort. You’ll have converts to evangelize the cause to others. Plus, you’ll be able to show improved web and social media traffic because you tracked the analytics.

What about you? Leave a comment, and tell me what content tip or life hack has helped you?

When data journalism meets hyper-local — Oakland Local launches Police Beat

Wow, Susan et al have outdone themselves. Way to go @OaklandLocal!


Most of the attention that gets paid to the growing field of “data journalism” gets focused on ambitious, national-level sites like Ezra Klein’s Vox or Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight — but data exists in all kinds of places, and can be used in different ways. One example of an interesting attempt to use public data to highlight an issue of social importance is Oakland Police Beat, a new project created by the non-profit news outlet Oakland Local in California.

In a nutshell, Oakland Police Beat uses publicly-available statistics and records from court filings to create a database of violence and alleged impropriety involving the police department in the city, a growing metropolis on the east side of the San Francisco bay that has seen a number of high-profile cases in which critics say police violated the civil rights of Oakland citizens.

Abraham Hyatt, a former managing editor at ReadWrite and…

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Face it, Maps Are Fun

Photo by Lisa at LLWorldTour

Photo by Lisa at LLWorldTour

Face it, maps are fun

We like maps because they can tell stories in entirely new ways. Here’s an example. I’ve been mulling this idea over for a good long while. After buying a house in East Oakland two years ago, I started visiting some of the local taco trucks. Then, I came across a Google map identifying all of them in a post by fellow blogger @DIYGene at

I decided to take over the map, first created by Krys in 2007, for my own purposes. Many of the trucks have moved. Some are gone entirely. I started to update the map. Then I decided to tap into Oakland’s local knowledge.

I’m republishing the map and promoting it. What a fun way to highlight a little piece of Oakland, right? I’ll post with a red thumbtacks, keeping whatever pre-2013 information is useful and accurate, such as photos, links, and reviews. Heck, maybe… hopefully… I can even draw others into the act. Let me hear from you about East Oakland’s taco trucks your frequent.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

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