Twitterville had a chapter called "Braided Journalism." It talks about the convergence of citizen and traditional journalism in a social media space.
A good example is the story of Janis Krums, who tweeted the photo of US Air Flight #1549 landing on the Hudson River. The guy just wanted to get to New Jersey, but by coincidence he became perhaps the most famous citizen journalist in modern times.
A sidebar is that Janis's jaw-dropping photo was used with abandon and without permission by traditional news outlets. The process slowed and got complicated when he started asking for royalty payments.
It seems to me that he braid of journalism I discussed in Twitterville was missing an important element--the monetization strand. We who provide content on blogs and at Flickr; we who have become passionate or have stumbled upon the power and potential of organizing citizen journalistic efforts need to eat.
Like traditional journalists through history, the passion put into reporting far exceeds the tangible rewards most of us have realized.
We have now entered into a massively transformational era, one in which most institutions are either being restructured or replaced. Evidence is pretty compelling that the era of mass marketing is being redirected into highly niched and/or localized marketing efforts, something I like to call mass micro marketing.
Nike, for example, has started a series of ads targeted at specific niches that range from Native Americans to swimmers to young adults in a specific urban neighborhood. Niche marketing is far from new, but what is new is a refocus on its value as a core strategy for global merchants.
which also are nothing new. This of course coincides with the acceleration of hyperlocal journalistic efforts. As my friend Ryan Kuder, who has played in hyperlocal, recently tweeted, "hyperlocal has been just around the corner for the past 15 years."
But now there's compelling evidence that the corner is being turned. Big media is getting smaller and grassroots new media organizations are starting to fill the huge voids caused by the old guard's contractions. Veteran journalists who have lost their jobs are finding new homes in it. J-school students who may find the jobs they are being trained for do not exist, are gravitating to it. Not only that, but people like Janis Krums, just happen to be on the scene when news pops up unexpectedly.
There is a natural opportunity for big branders to start looking more closely at hyperlocal organizations. There is also a huge opportunity for a large, fragmented and usually overlooked advertiser in the local merchant.
You local restaurant, dry cleaner or retailer has been filtered out of most marketing systems for years, drowned out by louder voices with bigger budgets who often enjoy lower ad rates by buying volume.
Your local dry cleaner, or plumber has limited options in social media, even from the perspective of a social media zealot like me. She or he used to put ads in local Yellow Pages, but they have gone; hometown radio stations lost in consolidations; bus panel advertising until much of society stopped using public transit. They used to have the hometown weekly newspapers but they too have dried up.
But now there's hyperlocal and the opportunity for the local merchant to sponsor coverage of a local street fair or soccer game, or clean up campaign or sponsoring a safe streets campaign.
In the past few months I have become less frightened by the large writing on cyberwalls that declares traditional media is dead and more heartened by the fact that something new, monetizable is emerging that will fulfill many aspects of the public's need to know what is happening in their neighborhoods and on their planet.
I see many pieces floating around, occasionally bumping against each other and sometimes converging. It will take time. For the past 60 years or so, nearly all marketing, branding, communications and advertising professionals have been trained to think big, to send one message or image that impacts masses of people.
Now there is a need to reverse the strategy, to think small, to get personal, to relate to either a physical or global neighborhood. This will take time, some successful practitioners in both media and marketing will not make the change successfully.
But in the end, I see a braid of journalism and marketing that will thrive. It will look very differently than the products that prevailed in the Broadcast Era. There will be much greater audience participation. News services will be more fragmented and decentralized than they have been in perhaps a hundred years.
But the braiding of new marketing with new journalism will occur there is a need on the parts of all parties concerned, particularly the public. The people who provide the content will begin o see the rewards. The merchants who have been shut out will be allowed back in. And the smartest mass marketers will discover the value of thinking local.