Skip to main content

tv   The Future of News  PBS  August 13, 2010 8:30pm-9:00pm PST

9:30 pm
>> thiprogram isroug to you by gra from the. >> when news breaks, america turns on the television. for 50 years, tv news has delivered the big stories and raked in big profits. television still owns live news, but ratings have been falling for decades, and the web has changed everything. did tv news react in time? >> they didn't say, "oh, my god. this is a 5-alarm fire that's gonna transform and destruct our business. what do we do?" >> there are 25 billion video streams a month on the internet, and it's not just piano-playing cats anymore. is news on the old tube in trouble with youtube? that's our topic today on "the future of news." >> a government without a tough and vibrant media of all sorts
9:31 pm
is not an option for the united states of america. >> you know, on youtube, we liked to say that everyone is now a reporter, but everyone is not a journalist. >> curious people have a lot of choices, and we just need to be one of their choices. >> from the newseum in washington, d.c., this is "the future of news." welcome to the knight studio and our conversation about media and news in the digital age. i'm frank sesno. today's guests bring very different media experience to our conversation. john king is a longtime broadcast journalist on cnn, where he's also their chief national correspondent and host of a new weeknight politics show. steve grove has spent most of his career in the new media world. he is director of ws a politicalrogrming at youtube, the phenomenally popular video-sharing web site owned by google. welcome to you both. different perspectives, same general place, certainly the same conversation. let me start by asking you both this. we have spent a lot of time talking about the possible
9:32 pm
demise of print journalism. 5 years from now, are we gonna be talking about the possible demise of television journalism because of guys like this from youtube? >> i would say absolutely and emphatically not in my view. do we have some learning to do, do we have some changing to do because of technology, because of the competition and choice in the marketplace? absolutely, but is there a thirst for information that tv news can help satisfy? i believe so without a doubt. >> steve, what about people going off and wanting to do it on their own? they don't need john king on cnn. they can find him on youtube or anywhere they want. >> well, i think tv journalism is definitely changing. most major national broadcasters now do have a youtube channel, and they use it to reach their audiences online as well as on tv, and i think also tv is changing because the broadcasting experience can now be more interactive. you can hear from your audience, you can talk with your audience, they can help inrmour prograing. so i think th nature of how we have a public dialogue about the issues of the day is actually becoming more robust, and that can happen best what happens with a hybrid model, i think, between
9:33 pm
web and tv. >> what does that mean, a hybrid model? >> i think it means leveraging the power of people who are using the web to consume news throughout the day to help inform how you cover it yourself. so it means putting clips of your news shows online to help reach new audiences, it meanasking the audience to give you feedback about stories that you're reporting. it means asking the audience to give you questions to help inform your conversations with the leaders of the day. giving people more access to information and more acss tyourournalism, think, empowers your audience to be more engaged in that discussion. >> john, how does that empowered audience, that youtube audience change the way you report when you're reporting, the way you do a show when you do a show? >> well, i think part it's just respect. any business needs to respect its consumers, and technology now allows the interaction, the conversation. the news business was built, much like the auto industry was built--"we're going to make these models, we will make these colors, the radio will be where we decide to put it, and you will buy it"--until-- >> and, "you will enjoy it." >> until globalization came along and there was competition, and now we watch the american auto industry through this, "hmm. can we
9:34 pm
survive?" moment. the news business is built the same way. "i will deliver the newspaper in your driveway at this time of day. if you want it earlier, too bad, and we will give you a broadcast when we decide to give it to you." now people have so many choices that we have to change. we have to actually have a conversation with our consumers, and we have to understand that they can take what i do at 7:00 at night or on a sunday morning and they can take pieces of it. we can do it on our own, but people also take it as we're doing it. you can do something live, and if it's interesting or informative or compelling, it can be on youtube before you finish your sentence. >> how does that aually change the way you do business? >> well, it can't change the way--it can't change our principles. we still need to double-check facts, triple-check facts, keep the principles of journalism, and cover some stories that maybe our audience might not recommend to us like war, like the bloodshed in iraq and afghanistan that tends to turn audiences off, but they're important, but can we listen to our audience and say, "you know, we like this, but we don't like that," and use that as part of our filter? it can't be our only filter because we have to journalists, but can it be part of our filter? yes, of course, it can. >> steve, explain how youtube works for people may not be
9:35 pm
aware and more specifically just how much stuff comes in in a tycal ur. >> well, actually, every minute, 20 hours of video are uploaded to youtube. that means that-- >> every minute-- >> every minute of every day-- >> 20 hours worth of video are uploaded. >> and just to put that into context, if abc, nbc, and cbs alone did original programming 24 hours a day for 60 days--or for 60 years, youtube would reach that amount in 60 days, so the sea of content out there is huge, right? a lot of content out there. essentially, anybody can upload a video to youtube and share it with their friends instantly by passing links around the web. they can integrate it into cial netwkinglatforms, cera, and a community of people watches those videos, and each view is recorded, and so the best videos rise to the top by climbing up the rankings based on how much the community likes it, how they rank it, et cetera. >> and how much of that is actually what you'd call news? >> oh, a lot is news, and we have hundreds of millions of videos viewed each week that people call news and politics, but i think the important thing on youtube is users say whether it's news or not, right, and
9:36 pm
they share in that conversation around what is newsworthy and what isn't. now a lot of times, it's regular citizens out there reporting what takes place in their neighborhood, whether it's "here's this pothole that needs to be fixed. why isn't my city government taking care of this?" or ase sarecently in iran, it's people on the streets of tehran capturing protests when the old media--or sorry--the tv media--sorry. slip of the mind. the tv media actually couldn't get there because they were kicked out by the government, so i think new sources of reporting for people like john, the tv business, can be found on youtube because you have more access to more information. >> have you grown accustomed to being called the old media? >> we are the old media or the mainstream media. people use different terms, and some of them are meant in a pejorative way. >> cnn used to be the revolution here at one time. >> we were the revolution, and now we're going to have to reinvent ourselves and continue the revolution. >> come back to youtube and what's going on there. some of the stuff is phenomenal and fun and has nothing to do with news. i'm going to show you one of the most popular videos that i've experienced in my youtube survey, and then we'll talk about it. it's not exactly
9:37 pm
news, but it is famous. here it is. >> ow! ooh! ouch! ouch! ouch, charlie! owwww! charlie, that really hurts! charlie bit me! >> ha ha! "charlie bit me." 134,902,885 views on that one, and then there are derivatives of that same one. >> sure. >> that's a lot of views. >> it is a lot of views, and i think we can all look at that vio anlaugh and say that that brings joy to people's lives they wouldn't have had otherwise if youtube wasn't there. that's information. that's people sharing interesting moments from their lives, and that becomes a
9:38 pm
global phenomena. i don't know where the video was uploaded, presumably in the u.k., but people around the world are able to access it because there's the internet and there's a platform that can host it and share it everywhere. >> steve, let me push here now because i also popped around to look at news on youtube and news stories, president obama's news conference, for example, that i saw that had a few thousand hits. a couple of them have a few hundred thousand or 150,000, but nothing close to th. what does thatell us about what people are going to youtube for and news versus quirky video? >> sure, sure. well, i mean, youtube at this point has become such a repository of video that i think it essentially mirrors culture. you can find any type of content on youtube, and we don't say youtube is a news site primarily. it's a site for video content. with political speeches and such, i think that the interesting part about them on youtube is you can catch them anywhere. it used to be that if you wanted to see a political speech or a political moment you'd have to catch the 7-second sound bite that the network news had time for on their evening newscast. during the 2008lection wh presidt obama gave one of his most famous speeches during the
9:39 pm
election, which was his speech on race, that video was uploaded right away at 10 a.m. to youtube. you know, millions of people watched it. ended up being viewed by 7 million people on the site, and they could watch it in its entirety. so you have more of an opportunity to catch this content wherever you are for however long you'd like to and make your own decisions about it. >> john, do you worry at all that a television audience that used to gather to watch important things now disintegrates or fragments into watching amusing but inconsequential videos on places like youtube? >> no. do you worry that in a world of so many choices--e you concerned that you have to have a distinctive, smart, sharp, compelling product to capture the attention for 30 minutes or an hour? sure. that's a concern, but that should always be a concern. we can't put this genie back in the bottle. there are all these choices, and technology is evolving as we're having this conversation. so it doesn't bother me that somebody who wants political information might go and search youtube, might go to, might go somewhere else. if they're that curious, if you give them an hour-long program or a half-hour-long program, they'll
9:40 pm
come and search you, too, because they're making a choice to go out and look for it. we're complementary pieces of an information puzzle. are we sometimes competitors? yes. at a given moment if somebody's, "where i can find that now? i have 10 minutes, and i want to get some information," that makes us competitors for a couple of minutes, but globally, curious people have a lot of choices, and we just need to be one of their choices. >> but then sometimes, we're also partners. i mean, i think one of the proudest moments that i've had at youtube since i've been there is the partnership that youtube and cnn did during the election on presidential debates, where youtube users could submit questions online, and then anderson cooper brought them to the primary candidates in two debates. so when new media a mainstream media work together effectively, i think you get something that's really unique, and that's a chance for, i think, both mediums to innovate in news. >> and i think the key words here are sort of democratization, getting more people involved, and choice because people can choose to see or to hear or to read what they want, when they want, where they want it, increasingly on all these different platforms, and increasingly, the web is that
9:41 pm
source of video news as we've heard, so sonya gavankar has a few places to show us. sonya. >> frank, let's start with hulu acts as the official source of network content. nbc-universal, news corp, and walt disney company are all owners of hulu, so you'll see a lot of their content. go to channels to see news and information. for instance, let's say you get up too late and you missed your favorite morning show and you didn't set your dvr. ahh! no worries. hulu has it in a matter of hours, and it's all hd. think of it as tv ending up on the internet. next up is youtube. they upload tons of information, as we have already talked about. go to channels to see some of the news organizations who upload content--associated press, russia today, and al jazeera english. many are now using youtube direct. this ia direct connection between you and the newsrooms. go to reporters' center, where you can see what kind of stories they're looking for. news organizations like abc news, huffington post, and npr. post your video, and they can use it
9:42 pm
on their news shows. last is this site has news made for the internet that may end up on tv, a site that combines citizen and professional journalism. started in 2005 by co-founder al gore, and viewers vote on the news that they see online. they vote for it here online, and the story may end up on current tv. that's the tv network part of current wants their viewers to have an ongoing discussion about what they watch because they want their programming to be interactive and an experience. frank. >> thanks, sonya. john, how'd she do on that magic wall there? >> she's very good. she's very, very good. i might be out of work. >> uh, back to all these different choices and all these different places. john, when you're doing television now and realizing that many of your viewers, perhaps mt of your viewerwillctuay consume it on or on one of these other sites, again, how does that change the way you present or what you do? do you
9:43 pm
pitch it differently, format it differently? >> doesn't change the rules any. if you think that it's not everyone's watching right now, somebody may watch this 4 hours from now, 8 hours from now, 10 hours from now, does it affect maybe the language you use? do you try to maybe hopefully have a little bit more context, something that lives, something that is worthwhile for a longer period of time? but that should be your goal anyway, so if the explosion of technology and the people can now pick when they watch a program, if that makes you think harder, makes you think, "i want something that actually has a longer shelf life," i think that's a good thing. it's an added contribution to the process. again, though, you cannot--if it's a breaking news story and it's now, my job is to cover it, not to say, "well, if i do this now, will somebody who goes online and looks at this in 5 hours?" so at times, there's a conflict, but i think it's manageable. >> we saw youtube up there with sonya a moment ago. what's news near you? >> oh, ok. so we have 300 news partners on youtube and growing. a lot of people have put their news content onto our site, but we find that it's most helpful to target videos
9:44 pm
to audiences that would be predisposed to watch them, and news near you just looks at geography. it says, "we'll find out where you're logged in based on the address that your computer is located at, and we will then target local news videos to where you're sitting to make sure you get the news that's actually relevant to where you're at." so if i'm in washington, d.c., i might get videos from politico or from tv stations around here. if i'm in san francisco, it might be the "chronicle" or ktv. >> and this is all through youtube of course, right? >> it is. >> so what is this? you're just bringing that to me when i log on to-- >> yeah. if you go to, you'll be served wh videos that are from local news organizations in your area, and you can click on them and watch them, and i think what's exciting is a lot of these local news networks are now taking advantage of the youtube direct program that sonya mentioned a moment ago where essentially you can use youtube's upload platform to ask your users to submit breaking news coverage, and in the past, that was really difficult because it's hard to verify what you find on youtube as being truth or not, it's hard to actually call out to people and say, "hey. we're looking for footage on x. can you submit it?" but this tool essentially gives you youtube
9:45 pm
in a box, and you can use it to create your own bureau of citizen stringers right there for your local nspaper. >> how does any of this affect the bottom line? i mean, so many newsrooms across the country have been laying people off because their ratings are down, their advertising is off either because of structural changes in the business or because of the economy itself. now we're distributing it in different ways, we're empowering people to come back in. is this something that if we look down the line we can say, "aha! this could be a revenue stream. this is something that drives more numbers, more eyeballs to the station to see the advertising"? or is this something that pulls away from the television stations per se, will continue to erode the audience, and actually have a perversely negative effect on the bottom lines? >> well, i mean, john can speak to the tremendous success that cnn's web site has had. it's one of the best on the internet. on youtube, we do serve advertising against our news videos that our advertisers can take advantage of. it's revenue they wouldn't have had otherwise, and it brings advertisers to very targeted types of content. i think on the web viewers find
9:46 pm
information that they really want to watch. it's all about choice. so if you found a video or a piece of content that you've chosen to watch by the click of your mouse, you've made that action, then the advertiser knows you're already engaged, and they cathen, you know, ke revenue off of the placements there. >> i think that's true, and i also think if you have some of the president's big news conference, the latest from iraq and afghanistan, and "charlie bit me," you know, people can want all those 3 things, especially maybe after viewing some heavy news, you might want to laugh, and i think if you mix it up, you bring eyeballs, and therefore, your advertisers are happy. to your other point, though, i do think that it is a fact of life right now that local tv stations and newspapers are not covering those potholes as much as they used to. they're not covering the school committee as much as they used to, and so that you have people going in with cameras or with laptops and being citizen journalists. are they always following the rules you and i were taught in journalism school? no, they're not, but are they doing an important thing in their community? and you see that--this is john king speaking more as a parent than a journalist right now--you see that in the number of hits on people who go to the school
9:47 pm
committee. what are they reading, what are they serving at lunch? and that is a service, and will journalism catch up and say, "well, so many people are looking at that parents' blog. maybe we need to send a reporter back to the school committee"? i hope so. >> that's the glass half full version of this, right, that that democratization reaches the newsroom, and newsrooms with those resources say, "we need to respond to that." the other part of the glass half full is that while citizen "q" does not have an editor in the traditional sense, the public is that person's editor, and so if they mess up, they'll hear from it from their friends and neighbors. does that actually happen that way? >> it does happen that way. you know, on youtube, we like to say that everyone is now a reporter but everyone is not a journalist, so people who go out there with cameras, they can report on things that take place, and then the community does come around that and help vet it and help look at the truth or falsehood of whatever's up there, and news organizations do the same. >> we spoke to media critic ken auletta, very well-known. he's author of a new book called "googled: the end of the world as we know it," and he has this question for you, steve. >> do you think about and worry
9:48 pm
that youtube, for all its many virtues, has this cardinal vice ofssentially cheapening the authority of news because people have too many choices? >> cheapening the authority because they have too many choices? >> i think that's a problem. i don't think it's just a problem for youtube. i think there are a lot of med sources out there today, that we have a fragmented media environment, but i also think that choice also allows people to get different perspectives, and the diversity that you see today on the web is one of its greatest virtues. i mean, on youtube, you can find everybody from al jazeera to fox news, and we're gonna cluster those videos together in the same place so that you can get different perspectives from different angles. then of course there's the citizen reporting angle, as well, so i think that is a challenge, i think, for news reporters who are trying to find the best way to put news in context, but it's also a benefit to users who want to see different sides of a story. >> what do you think? >> i agree with everything steve said, but i also--and ken is a friend and a very, very
9:49 pm
smart man, but i think the language of the question is almost looking through the rearview prism in the sense that it says that shouldn't the anchor, shouldn't the news organization be this exalted figure on a pedestal, and i don't think we can view it that way anymore. walter cronkite could get away with that. maybe even more recently, some of the anchors could get away with that, but we're in this interactive community now, and look. there's somebody out there--there's a doctor we go to if we're not feeling well. there's somebody delivering our mail. there's a mechanic we bring our car to if it's not working. they're all part of our community. we are the people hopefully they tune in to trust and get information from when they have to make a big decision. is the president right about sending more troops to afghanistan? what's in this health care bill? we shouldn't think of ourselves as up on a pedestal. we should think of ourselves as part of a community. our job is to help with information. other people help with other things, and we shouldn't want the pedestal. >> let's get in some of the voices from our audience now. hi. go ahead with your question. >> my question is in terms of political television news with ratings and demographics
9:50 pm
shifting seemingly towards the cable personality-driven news shows--rachel maddow, john king--do you think that in the future that will make the traditional nightly newscast obsolete? >> you gonna make the traditional nightly newscast obsolete? >> if she's right, i have to set myself on fire now. is that how this works? no. will we make them obsolete? i don't know the answer to that question, and i don't mean this to sound the way i'm going to say it, but i almost don't care. that's my job. my bosses might not like this, but i hope not. i hope--i like the choices. i like that people have a variety of choices, and there are very good programs there. in this world where we can dvr everything or go online and find it after the fact, if you can't watch my program at 7:00 or my program on sunday morning, i hope you find it when you can. that's the changing paradigm of our business. you now decide when you get your news, and in that, i'm a firm believer in choice, and you--again, you will know--you know, john king does it this way, rachel maddow does
9:51 pm
it that way, somebody on fox--maybe it's hannity--does it that way, and you might say--i hope over time if you watch you would say, "left, right, middle." that's my mission. if i fail that mission, you will let me know. >> and, steve, you know what's interesting here is we get all carried away about whether the nightly newscasts are gonna die and how huge--with all due respect--youtube is. the 3 network newscasts, though they are way, way down from where they were 10 years ago, still are getting more than 20 million viewers a night on average. >> but what is the average of that newscast? i think it's around 60 or 65, right? so you have a whole new audience-- >> you got something against 60- or 65-year-olds? >> i don't at all. >> stand up and say that in the newseum. >> i just saying the 20 million you're referring to are the 20 million that still are into the pattern of consuming news in that way, right, and i think that the pattern of consuming news now online does speak to different demographics and a new culture of news consumers who find their news in between a lunch break, just before a meeting, on their mobile phone
9:52 pm
on the train. >> we have one more question. >> do you see the television news becoming even more interactive in the future with the social media like the twitter feeds we're now seeing at the bottom of the screen, viewer contributions, and as we move maybe toward a hybrid television set that is internet-connected, are we going have even more of a live choose-your-own news type option? >> the interactive part absolutely, and again, i think we have to be careful on our part. it is a conversation, and you do want to have relevance--relevance is a word i use a lot. you want to communicate about big stories in washington in a way that is relevant to the people out there watching, wherever you are in the country or the world, and therefore, interacting with them helps. you still have to defend your journalism principles, but there's no question that we have to have more of this communication. i think that we need to have vehicles at cnn, and maybe someday there will be a program "news you choose," a program. as long as it's in a universe of other news programs, i have no problem with that. >> but i think it's important
9:53 pm
to think--to remember what is tv in relation to the web? like, when i sit down to watch tv, i'm leaning back in my chair, and i'm enjoying a piece of quality, premium content, right? when i'm on the web, i'm moving through a lot of different pieces of content at a time. i think a tv show that just had just straight youtube clips with, like, an anchor saying, "here they go," and an anchor then saying, "here they were," would be probably not a typical tv viewing experience. you come to tv to get something different, but that interactivity that youtube and other platforms provide that kind of meld with tv, i think, is the sweet spot. so finding you might call it a hybrid model--and people like john are already doing this on tv every day--is the answer. >> we want to show you now courtesy of the newseum archives a moment that has been called television's finest. it was july 1969. the attention of the planet, the largest audience in history, was focused on one event brought live on television, the landing of apollo 11 as we walked on the moon. >> what a moment. man on the way to the moon.
9:54 pm
>> here you go. houston. you're a go for landing. over. >> ok. engine stop. tranquility base here. the eagle has landed. >> phew. boy. heh. >> and we're getting a picture on the tv. >> this was a television moment unlike any other. it was a great triumph, not only of nasa but of television and the technology. it was an epic moment, and television captured it. >> steve grove, if we were doing that today with youtube, what would that moment look like? >> well, you'd probably have astronauts with cell phone cameras uploading videos from space and answering questions on twitter, and it would be all real-time. it's great watching that moment then. what a great moment in american history and a great moment for television, and that took place probably 20 years after television had been invented. the web, everything is much faster. you know, youtube was invented in 2005, and by 2006, we were one of the main factors in the shape of
9:55 pm
the midterm elections in politics, so things move quicker now, but those seminal moments, i think, really start to define technology and its place in our society. >> and that snapshot of walter pulling off his glasses and going, "phew!" at the time, that was like great emotion. that was somewhat controversial because he was cheerleading, and that was, "wow! walter cronkite showed emotion." now look at what you get on television now between news and alleged news programming and people gyrating in their chairs and all that. >> and if you did that, you'd have 5,000 bloggers saying, "what's he taking his glasses off for?" john king, steve grove, thanks very much to you. that's all for today. for "the future of news" from the knight studio at the newseum, i'm frank sesno.
9:56 pm
>> this program has been brought to you by a grant from the... for more information, visit our web site...
9:57 pm
9:58 pm
9:59 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on