Archive for the ‘Mainstream Media’ Category

Is the Mormon Media Empire Curtailing Freedom of Speech?

September 17, 2010 3 comments

I’m a little surprised about’s move today to remove commenting…at least temporarily…from their website.

For those of you who have never ventured into the comments, it’s kind of like venturing into a storm drain or sewer.  You never know what you’re going to find.

The typical partisanship was divided over homosexuals, President Obama, illegal immigration and BYU football.  Anyone who has ever ventured in there will attest to this statement.

While profanity was censored, ill will, bigotry and hatred wasn’t. message boards were the Mormon version of 4chan.  The new Mormon media empire is trying to put a stop to it.  The harsh reality is they can’t.

I’m not sure which “side” the new policy was supposed to thwart.  Common news stories would go off topic really quickly into racism and xenophobia.  Forget about a topic that included guns or BYU football.

The value to wading into the cesspool would be comments by those close to the story who could add further insight.  This is especially true when early reports on a story provided few details.

Later today, it was revealed that while the Deseret News wasn’t ending comments, they were certainly changing the policy to make it more difficult to comment anonymously.

In my opinion, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Anonymous Internet writing creates a sense of freedom that doesn’t exist in reality if anyone could ever trace back what you wrote to a real human.  As a result, some people act sub-human.  While private businesses have every right to control their own property, what the new empire fails to realize is technology is their biggest enemy, not opinionated individuals.

Today, I received an opportunity to interview one of the Google engineers behind Google Instant.  One of the questions I thought about was failed ventures like Orkut and Sidewiki.  In reflection, Sidewiki offered so much promise, but seems to be a nothingburger today.  Under online censorship, Sidewiki is an expression tool nobody, but Google, can control.

Here is the lesson whether you’re KSL, the DesNews, a business or anyone else online…the conversation is going to happen.  It may happen on your site.  It may happen elsewhere.  Or it may happen on your site without your knowledge.  Under which circumstance do you think will be best for your organization?  It is foolishness, no matter your original intent, to think you can stop it.

Besides Sidewiki overlaying the original site, critics will naturally go to other sites to express their opinion.  The story on the Salt Lake Tribune has generated hundreds of comments and tens of thousands of third-party sites like mine will also express an opinion.

The conversation can’t be stifled.  It can be redirected, it can be overwritten, but it can’t be suppressed.  The Internet, and I include all forms of social media within this categorization, allows absolute freedom of speech.  If the Mullahs in Iran can’t succeed with censorship, neither can the Apostles in Utah.

So what’s the answer?  KSL claims they can’t cost effectively monitor their boards.  That’s probably true.  Personally, I love the Facebook authorized commenting.  Then when you say something offensive at least all your friends and family will know.

It’s a double-edged sword.  The more difficult it is to share is the less likely people are willing to.  Add a complicated registration process and a hard to read CAPTCHA and you’ll get few comments and look irrelevant.  Ease it up and you have chaos.  Facebook isn’t a perfect answer because it’s easy to create fake accounts.

What really needs to take place is a paradigm shift.  If it’s online, we can’t control it.  We can, however, take part in the discussion.  That’s the point.  Until Sidewiki, there was a chance we could move discussions we didn’t like.  We can’t anymore.

The lesson to and anyone else that attempts this policy, isn’t censorship, it’s discussion.  I found myself looking at comments and soon deciding I didn’t want to be there.  Don’t censor or delete, add to the discussion.  Thoughtful members of your audience will automatically self-filter.

Leave it in the hands of the audience and don’t try to remove the discussion.  It will happen no matter how hard you try to stop it.

Advertisements Disables Comments – Loses Editors

September 16, 2010 1 comment

foodpanty announced it was suspending comments from readers today. Perhaps that was a bad idea as commenters will often point out innocent and not so innocent copy errors like the one in this title.

Feedback is good, even if you disagree with what is said or the tone it is said in.

I’ll post a more comprehensive article about this topic in the future.

What Does the Deseret News and BYU Football Have to do With an Empire?

September 1, 2010 6 comments

Within a twelve-hour period, the shape of the Latter Day Saints media operations has been turned on its side.  While some see the downsizing of the Deseret News to be a sign of financial weakness, I see that move and the independence of church owned Brigham Young University football to be the foundation of a Mormon media empire.

Let’s go back a few steps though and let me explain why I’ve come to this conclusion.

I’m a college football fan.  It is my favorite spectator sport.  Off season usually has a merry-go-round of coaching changes.  This off-season the merry-go-round included conference realignment.  First it was the possibility of the Big 12 dissolving and then a PAC-10 superconference.  What wound up happening was a complete realignment in the West…namely the Mountain West Conference and the Western Athletic Conference. 

Soon after Utah accepted a move to the PAC 10, we were made aware of BYU’s desire to go independent in football and move its other sports to a new conference.  Plans to move back to the WAC dissolved when the MWC invited Nevada and Fresno St. to join and they accepted.  Many people thought BYU would stay in the Mountain West.  I didn’t.  Neither did Kurt Kragthorpe.

Around the same time, I was reading about the Deseret News planning to shift its operations.  It looked to many to be a cost cutting move, but it’s not.  It’s a complete realignment of the religion’s media empire.  They’re not downsizing, they’re consolidating.

Two trends kept coming out during the discussion of both the football conference and the newspaper.  First, both divisions were relying on the attention of the built-in religious audience.  For football, the school estimated viewership of 60 million world-wide.

Part of BYU’s unhappiness with the MWC stems from the fact that it receives only about $1.5 million in television revenue from the league. It believes it can get more by negotiating its own TV deals, or by televising games on its own network, BYU TV.

For the newspaper, numbers show 60% of its audience is out-of-state viewing online. 

…the church connection provides an unusual opportunity to build beyond the typical local audience. Gilbert, who describes himself as “a devout Mormon,” said there has been “a world-wide diaspora (of the faith) and that gives us a chance for a world-wide audience — 60 percent of the traffic is not Utah-based.”
That prompts content that “is more thoughtful, more global” than just local breaking news. “We don’t want to be normal,” he continued, citing, as an example, coverage of church relief projects “improving people’s lives” after the Haiti earthquake.
The second trend was tailoring content to the audience.  BYU knows the value its football program offers to the school, students and the faithful.  The same applies to the newspaper which is now combining with the church’s other media properties like KSL TV and radio.

Both moves are particularly bold for a religion that is known to be conservative and thought to be behind the times.  If successful, it could prove to be a model other businesses emulate in the future.  By tailoring content to groups of similarly minded people, traditional media organizations may find a way to become relevant in the new, digital world.

On the other hand, failure wouldn’t be too damaging.  The cost cutting efforts at the Deseret News should offset any losses there.  Plus, that’s something newspapers need to do in this day and age.  The football program can always rejoin a league if independence proves too daunting. 

I also find it no coincidence both plans were announced on the same day.  August 31, 2010 marks the birth of a media empire.

Considering all the options out there, I think these two bold moves by the LDS church will indeed prove beneficial and probably a model to study and adopt in the future.  Only time will tell of course, but I’m real interested to see how this all plays out.

Social Media is Media!

November 5, 2009 1 comment

mediaI was talking to a friend of mine last week who said she doesn’t get any news from the mainstream media.  Her news comes from her friends on Facebook and Twitter.

At first I was taken aback, but then I realized I’m relying more on social media for news as well.

I’ll admit, I’m a news junky.  I read voraciously, but I’m not reading news that much any more.  I can’t tell you the last time I saw more than 12 seconds of TV news and I don’t even listen to news on the radio.  This is something that’s just occurred in the last month or so.

Once I figured out how to search on Twitter, I can be just as informed, but through a different source; social media.  Once I stopped following the news and started being the media, my perspective has completely changed.

Today I was featured on an international blog in England as an SEO expert.  Murray Newlands is an expert at being the media, constantly publishing interviews of Internet marketers from around the world.  He’s an avid networker and attends conferences all over the world.  Thanks for the feature!

Next Wednesday I have a deadline to submit an article on social media to be published in Utah Pulse.  I’m still not sure what I’m going to write about.  Please send a question via email or comment on this post if you have an idea.

My point is we can be the media if we want to.  As a marketer, I’d rather be the news than watch the news.  I can submit press releases and wait to be contacted, or I can search for opportunities and volunteer.  Both the Murray Newlands opportunity and Utah Pulse came from reaching out and volunteering.

These are not huge opportunities, but they are targeted to markets I want to be seen in.  Murray Newlands is influential in his sphere and every Salt Lake SEO and web design company knows about the Social Media Club of SLC.  I am presenting myself as an expert to people I want to influence using social media.  You can do the very same thing!

Everybody is an expert at something and with the Internet there is an audience for every niche.  Newspaper companies, TV stations, magazines and other traditional media are folding, while social media companies are growing.  New media is so dynamic, mainstream media simply can’t compete.  Welcome to the new media.  How are you going to be a part of it?

Utah’s Top Blogger Press Release

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Here’s the official version that came out yesterday:


Online PR News – 31-October-2009 – Utah Internet marketing company SEO by Swaby is pleased to announce the winners of its Utah’s Top Blogger contest. This announcement concludes the month long contest that asked visitors to judge local blogs based on frequency of posts, quality of posts and the sense of community of the blog. The winner of the contest is Brandy Roth, with Bob DeLong, Heather Armstrong, Janet Thaeler and Jesse Stay as finalists. A complete wrap-up can be seen at the SEO by Swaby blog.

While many people thought the hands-down winner would be Heather Armstrong of, the contest structure leveled the playing field and amateur bloggers ended up winning. Until October 16th the contest was open to nominations. Winner Brandy Roth was a late entry. “The final list of nominees included:

Scott D. Pierce
Nicole Warburton
Don Osmond
Paul Allen
Phil Windley
Jesse Stay
Brandy Roth
Paul Rolly
Michael Eagar
Brad Rock
Sheena McFarland
Vince Horiuchi
Brian Johnson
Glen Warchol
Greg Tracy
Dell Schanze
Stephanie Nielson
Stephen Speckman
Sean P. Means
Janet Thaeler
Bob DeLong
Heather Armstrong
Charles Trentelman”

The nominee list was a compilation of a variety of bloggers including journalists, tech oriented writers, Internet marketers, real estate writers, infamous bloggers and Mormon mommy bloggers. For additional information on the Utah’s top blogger contest, please go to

Why Mainstream Media is Failing…

October 21, 2009 6 comments

nook press

They’ve fired all the editors or at least off shored them to Eastern Moldavia.  This story on Barnes & Noble’s new e-book reader the Nook appeared this morning on CNN.  My tech friends on Facebook were talking about it, so I decided to check it out.

I’m a stickler for details, so I was shocked to see a spelling error in the subheading.  When I re-read the article I saw a grammatical error on the fourth line of the subheading.  This is above the fold stuff people!

The screen shot is above in case they fix the error.  Sadly, they probably won’t.  And we wonder why the press is going down hill…

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