Bing Has Its First Killer App.

Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, went live last week, and I really didn’t take much notice. But yesterday, I went to one of my favorite sites — farecast.com — to search for flights, and I found that it’s been rolled into Bing as the search engine’s “travel” page.

For Bing, this is a great move. Farecast is already one of the most powerful travel tools on the web, and users searching for the site will be automatically redirected to Bing. It’s going to generate traffic from users who had no idea that Bing even existed.

Now Microsoft just has to prove that its search engine beats Google’s.

What Journalists Can Learn From Wale.


On May 19, a rapper you’ve never heard of announced that he’d be headlining a show at D.C.’s top music venue, the 9:30 Club. On Twitter, he wrote, “if i do a show at 930 clun [sic] in 14 days..can i sell 900 tickets?”

On Wednesday, that rapper — D.C.’s own, Wale — got his answer. He didn’t sell 900 tickets in two weeks.

No, in two weeks, he sold out the place, 1,200 tickets in all.

And consider this: less than two years ago, when The Washington Post called him “The Great Rap Hope,” he hadn’t even released an album. Two years ago, he was still living at home with his parents.

So how’d he reach this point in his career? It’s the subject of this week’s “Things Journalists Can Learn From….”

1. Brand Yourself. In The Post’s 2007 article, a business partner said, “He’s like a one-man marketing machine.” On Wednesday, Wale — a frequent Twitterer — asked fans to Tweet him song requests during the show. He’s also famous for “The Mixtape About Nothing,” a Seinfeld-themed album that he released for free online. One of the special guests on the album: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It’s all a part of Wale’s effort to build his own name and associate himself with top-tier talent.

2. Repackage Your Content. Wale’s biggest single to date was 2007’s “Nike Boots” (video available here). But then Wale came back with a remix of the song, and made sure that it got attention by featuring Lil Wayne on the track. Rap fans who didn’t notice the song the first time tuned in for the remix. The point: great original content should be delivered via multiple platforms to reach the largest audience possible.

3. Network. Wale’s new album, “Attention: Deficit” features production work from Mark Ronson (of Amy Winehouse fame) and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek. He’s signed Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to manage him, and he’ll be touring with Jay-Z this summer. Then there’s his new single, “Chillin’,” which is generating buzz thanks to the backing vocals of Lady Gaga. Wale might not be a household name just yet, but with support from a network like that, you know you’ll be hearing his songs on the radio soon.

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H/T to D.C. Fab for the photo of Wale at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday.

Promoting Transcontinetal, Pau-Related Synergy.


This, I like: The Los Angeles Times has teamed with Spain’s biggest sports daily, Marca, to crosspost Lakers center Pau Gasol’s blog in both English and Spanish.

This, I find strange: The Times’ blog is vastly inferior.

Marca’s blog (see: top left) has a better layout and a better color scheme. It uses larger photos, and it’s much easier to navigate. In terms of Internet readability, it’s also vastly superior.

Meanwhile, the latest post on the Times’ blog (see: top right) isn’t even formatted correctly.

It’s a perfect example of how news organizations should — and should not — be packaging their news. Deliver your unique content in bold ways, and you’ll be rewarded with an almighty click.

Why Steve Brill is Wrong (or: The World is Flat, But Also Sort of Elongated.)


Steve Brill is wrong.

He’s pitching a plan to save newspapers, and it’s based around the idea that newspapers should begin charging for all-access passes to their sites. And when he’s giving his pitch, just before he’s finished riling newspaper executives into believing that the public is just going to start handing over money in exchange for the printed word, he mentions that journalists are going to have to “change consumer expectations that journalism is free on the web.”

Steve Brill is wrong.

He’s not wrong that journalists are going to have to change the way the public thinks about paying for news. He’s entirely right about that, actually. Free, sadly, is not a sustainable business model.

But he’s wrong when he characterizes this as an “expectation.” It’s not. It is, sociologically speaking, a norm.

If I go to a bar and buy a beer, I’ll leave a dollar for the bartender. Society understands that bartenders work on tips, and we’re willing to self-police those who don’t tip well. There is no requirement that you tip; but certainly, those who tip poorly (or not at all) will be shamed by their peers for breaking a norm.

And if I go a restaurant, eat, and then leave without paying, I’ll be prosecuted (or find my face suddenly plastered on every restaurant wall in town). You won’t find a society in the world where stealing is acceptable.

In the first case, the norm is enforced by peers. In the second, the norm is enforced by the owners of the establishment, or by police.

But look at what’s happening with newspapers. Society does not frown upon those who get their news for free, because:

A.) There’s no norm that says that good journalists should receive extra financing (via tips) from the public for performing a public service 1..

B.) There’s no norm that suggests that getting news for free is stealing.

And without going into the full, 10,000 word Malcolm Gladwell-style breakdown, I’ll say this: norms are hard to create, and even harder to break down.

Arno Peters is proof.

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What you’re looking is a map of the world as — according to many cartographers — it actually appears.

No, really.

In 1973, Peters presented that map at a conference for cartographers. He suggested that Mercator project map — first used in the 16th century — was inaccurate, as it distorted the size and shape of countries. The Mercator map was created for explorers — specially, European explorers — to use when traveling by sea. In that map, countries closer to the poles become especially elongated, while countries near the equator appear smaller.

Essentially, it’s a map that places Europe at the center of the world.

Supporters of the Peters project map say that the map does not treat the Southern hemisphere fairly. They’ll also note that Greenland has an area fourteen times smaller than that of Africa. But on the Mercator map, they appear similar in size 2..

But you won’t find the Peters projection map in elementary school classrooms, and for good reason: it looks ridiculous. The map you trust looks like this, and that’s the way that you’ll probably always envision the world. The norm — since the late 1500s — is that the Mercator map is the true representation of the world, and any suggestion otherwise would be to deny a universal truth.

Could we, as a country, come together and decide that the Peters map is the better, more truthful map? Hypothetically, yes. But it would take decades, because we’d have to change the public’s perception of how the Earth really appears. And can you imagine the looks on people’s faces when we tell them how big Africa really is?

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As new Internet users log online, they’re discovering all of this free content, and they’re already sinking into the idea that free content is normal. It’s those who are charging for content who are the abnormal ones.

The truth is, for newspapers, the window to succeed in changing this norm is shrinking every day.

So what can newspapers do? Maybe a model like Kachingle — which works like a tip jar for journalists — could work, and maybe society will make examples of those who aren’t tipping their favorite sources in the news industry.

Or maybe Steve Brill’s model will catch on, and society will accept the idea that reading news for free is stealing.

Maybe.

Here’s where I’d start: I’d prove that the content that I’m providing is essential. We can live without news of the weird or the latest baseball box scores. But we need news that allows us to remain a informed, dedicated citizenry. The newspapers that provide such essential content will survive.

If I’m going to argue — as newspapers are — that I’m essential to a democracy, then it’s about time I started living up to it. Do that, and maybe I can expect the public to starting paying up.

I’m not advocating premium content. I’m just advocating better journalism.

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1.) And can you imagine if journalists were told that they’d be earning a lesser hourly wage and then making back the rest of their salary via tips? One thing’s for sure: on a tip-based-model, you’d see journalists working harder than ever. >back to article

2.) If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because the map was featured in an episode of The West Wing. >back to article

H/T to Hamed Saber for the image at top, and petersmap.com for the map

CBS To Live Stream the Evening News (or: Good Night, Good Luck, and Don’t Forget to Close This Tab in Firefox on Your Way Out.)

There is a certain irony in today’s announcement that CBS News will partner with UStream to live stream the network’s evening news broadcasts. UStream’s calling it an experiment in “viral news.”

I’d call it a nifty bit of free press, and nothing more.

The evening news hasn’t been relevant since the 80s, and we have Ted Turner to thank for that. His network changed the nature of news from something that happened yesterday to something that’s happening right now on a screen in your living room. There’s a reason why, in 1990, Dan Rather told The Chicago Tribune, ”I think that within five or 10 years, only one of the networks will have a news show.” 1. Even then, news was moving too fast for ABC, CBS, and NBC.

In the 90s, the Internet took what CNN had done and moved it one evolutionary step farther. News isn’t just what’s happening now. Today, news can be whatever you want it to be, delivered however you want it. And if you’re reading it in anything less than real time, you’re already out of the know.

The old rules for journalism just don’t apply anymore, and that’s not easy to accept. A show like the CBS Evening News used to be a trusted source of news. But turn on Katie Couric tonight, and you’ll find yourself watching a program that’s all about things you’ve already read or seen today. There’s no new information, and few stories worth noting.

So why, exactly, would anyone at CBS believe that by switching the box with which you watch the news — while keeping the same basic platform for the program — a new demographic will suddenly tune in?

Repackaging content for a new medium is one thing. But this is an attempt to rebrand a fading show as tech savvy, and it’s a feeble attempt at that. Today’s announcement is further proof that network news is struggling to even remain relevant in today’s media environment.

We’re going through a major change in journalism, and it’s impossible to know what it’ll look like when everything’s been shifted. But I know that we need more reporters, more news, and more ideas. We need evolution in journalism to move as fast as the revolution we’re seeing with technology.

And we need to know that sometimes — and this is one of those times — an old model just isn’t worth reviving.

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H/T to Image Editor and juhansonin for the images, which I’ve pieced together in Photoshop.

1. Neuharth, Al. “CNN: Noodle Soup Glues Globe Together.” USA Today 1 June 1990. Lexis-Nexis.