Make Useful Media

shopper I started thinking about how journalists are going to fare in 2009. I thought about how many papers are facing layoffs, how many hundreds of news room jobs have already been cut, and what those skillsets might do once they’ve been unhinged from their current responsibilities. What came to mind was something we might all consider. Are there ways that we can make more useful media, and are there ways we can make media useful?

Every one of these ideas applies to us as much as it does to the incoming rush of journalists out there.

Location-Based Media

I live in a small town in northern Massachusetts, surrounded by many other small towns. There’s always tons of little things going on, but we rarely know what’s what or where. A blog with really simple brief posts about events, and then maybe longer reviews about places that are great to visit would really give me some value. And if you’re looking for revenue, local advertising is an area where you can hustle some interesting opportunities together.

Another location-based idea involves my experiments with BrightKite. I’ve written about my thoughts on the annotated world, and I think there are further opportunities here, for all of us to consider. And please, not for your company’s dumb products. Think “useful.” Think “helpful.”

Interest-Based Media

There are always opportunities for media around specific ideas. I suggested the need for someone to build a blog to equip people to report small news. It’s another way someone could be helpful, and there are so many more.

That’s the thing. You could write about your skills and there’s almost certainly someone out there who’d want to know more about it. Are you passionate about canning and pickling? I know that TV celebrity Brea Grant probably would subscribe, because she’s looking to learn more about it. Want to learn about grilling and food preparation? Try Justin Levy’s Prime Cuts blog.

There are hundreds of ways to slice this, maybe more. But there’s gold in figuring it out.

Self-Improvement

This category never gets old. Blogs like LifeHacker and 43 Folders and Lateral Action come right to mind, as do many other blogs that teach us ways to improve. There’s a fairly perpetual marketing for this kind of information. Do you have an area of self-improvement that you can write knowledgeably about? Maybe it’s your ticket to the next level.

We Have Such an Opportunity

We have the presses. We are the TV stations. This is our chance to master tomorrow’s radios today. Why create what’s been done before? Why stick to the media styles and methods and models that have dominated the traditional formats for so long?

Make useful media, share it far and wide, and build business around those opportunities. This is your chance.

Photo credit, ralphbijker

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  • http://blog.lightninglabels.com Peter Renton

    Hey Chris, I often wonder when the old media is going to evolve. I still like reading magazines – they are a very efficient technology very portable, easy to carry and read during a long flight. But why is it that every issue TIME magazine and Sports Illustrated is identical for all subscribers.

    I would like to see these magazines redefine themselves with the option of having a custom magazine made. Give me a menu of say 50 topics and allow me to choose my favorite 10-15. Then I can get a magazine that is tailored to my interests. If old media doesn’t start making these changes in the next year or two they really have no future. I will just move all reading to my RSS reader. If they adapt I will happily read magazines for many more years.

  • http://blog.lightninglabels.com Peter Renton

    Hey Chris, I often wonder when the old media is going to evolve. I still like reading magazines – they are a very efficient technology very portable, easy to carry and read during a long flight. But why is it that every issue TIME magazine and Sports Illustrated is identical for all subscribers.

    I would like to see these magazines redefine themselves with the option of having a custom magazine made. Give me a menu of say 50 topics and allow me to choose my favorite 10-15. Then I can get a magazine that is tailored to my interests. If old media doesn’t start making these changes in the next year or two they really have no future. I will just move all reading to my RSS reader. If they adapt I will happily read magazines for many more years.

  • http://garywiram.wordpress.com/ Gary Wiram

    Great advice Chris. As a Baby Boomer who manages three blogs, is involved with Social Media like Twitter, etc., I’m a bit of an anachronism. So, I like what you have to say not just for my own direction but for the encouragement it gives others of my generation to dive in.

  • http://garywiram.wordpress.com/ Gary Wiram

    Great advice Chris. As a Baby Boomer who manages three blogs, is involved with Social Media like Twitter, etc., I’m a bit of an anachronism. So, I like what you have to say not just for my own direction but for the encouragement it gives others of my generation to dive in.

  • http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/14377 Calisha

    I subscribe to your blog and have been reading your posts by email for a few weeks now. Got this post today and it inspired me to submit a proposal to Change Makers’ Re-Imagine Media competition! My proposal is grounded in making useful media and making media useful to the every day. I had been thinking about submitting something but had this big grand project thought up and I desperately wanted to scale it down to something feasible and manageable that could be useful to anyone. It’s not a blog but I’d love your feedback: http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/14377

  • http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/14377 Calisha

    I subscribe to your blog and have been reading your posts by email for a few weeks now. Got this post today and it inspired me to submit a proposal to Change Makers’ Re-Imagine Media competition! My proposal is grounded in making useful media and making media useful to the every day. I had been thinking about submitting something but had this big grand project thought up and I desperately wanted to scale it down to something feasible and manageable that could be useful to anyone. It’s not a blog but I’d love your feedback: http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/14377

  • http://www.relevantmom.blogspot.com Kirsten Branch

    In addition to making the media more useful, there also is a huge challenge to make it more accessible. Now that such a huge number of people have the increasingly powerful hand held devices, so much more than mere “phones,” there is more opportunity here to engineer ways to meet this medium without sacraficing good content.

  • http://www.relevantmom.blogspot.com Kirsten Branch

    In addition to making the media more useful, there also is a huge challenge to make it more accessible. Now that such a huge number of people have the increasingly powerful hand held devices, so much more than mere “phones,” there is more opportunity here to engineer ways to meet this medium without sacraficing good content.

  • http://stevenimmons.org Steve Nimmons

    I’m in favor as long as long as it doesn’t all become a storm of ‘public access TV’ media, with low quality and poor editorial control. As media is power, I don’t think we should be naive about the controls the current media barons will exert.

  • http://twitter.com/stevenimmons Steve Nimmons

    I’m in favor as long as long as it doesn’t all become a storm of ‘public access TV’ media, with low quality and poor editorial control. As media is power, I don’t think we should be naive about the controls the current media barons will exert.

  • Chris

    I don’t mean to nitpick, but I’d like to comment on this statement:

    ——
    And please, not for your company’s dumb products. Think “useful.” Think “helpful.”
    ——

    A company’s products can be “useful” and “helpful”…After all, an individual never purchases something with the expectation that he/she will be worse off. The belief is that the product can be “useful” or “helpful”.

    Sure there can be spam, and I would have a problem with that…but there are also legitimate ways to market your products via social media.

    In fact, the ability to locate and service the demands of the marketplace are more efficient when using todays digital tools.

    Trade and Exchange are a critical part of our lives…We can’t survive without them. So I think it’s an error to say that social media should not be used to help others become aware of your products, whether they’re “dumb” or not.

  • Chris

    I don’t mean to nitpick, but I’d like to comment on this statement:

    ——
    And please, not for your company’s dumb products. Think “useful.” Think “helpful.”
    ——

    A company’s products can be “useful” and “helpful”…After all, an individual never purchases something with the expectation that he/she will be worse off. The belief is that the product can be “useful” or “helpful”.

    Sure there can be spam, and I would have a problem with that…but there are also legitimate ways to market your products via social media.

    In fact, the ability to locate and service the demands of the marketplace are more efficient when using todays digital tools.

    Trade and Exchange are a critical part of our lives…We can’t survive without them. So I think it’s an error to say that social media should not be used to help others become aware of your products, whether they’re “dumb” or not.

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  • http://www.shainemata.net Shaine Mata

    It is so easy to become a bit self-absorbed and not put out anything of value when writing a blog. But you’re right. The one blog that generates the most revenue is the one I neglect because it requires me to provide something interesting. It IS a blog focused on local news and activities, which could do better.

    Thanks for the reminder; I’ll get back on track.

  • http://www.shainemata.net Shaine Mata

    It is so easy to become a bit self-absorbed and not put out anything of value when writing a blog. But you’re right. The one blog that generates the most revenue is the one I neglect because it requires me to provide something interesting. It IS a blog focused on local news and activities, which could do better.

    Thanks for the reminder; I’ll get back on track.

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    I think location based media will become a popular concept in 2009 as more and more people are exposed to the broad array of free web tools that are out there. Hopefully Obama's social networking efforts will inspire millions of people world wide to organize location based content.