Extra: Blind lead Blind to Payday!

(Note: I know not why, but none of my links nor formatting would paste from Word into Blogger today, and rather than infuritate myself with wondering why, I simply post this crippled version, shake my head and walk away!)

Two days of excellent discussion in Paid Content failed to find a simple answer to a beguilingly simple question: “What is a media company today?” But the exercise exposed me to a site — unmediated.org — which seems like a great resource for small producers in what I like to call the Mini Media realm.

The dialog occurs in the June 14 and June 15 editions of Paid Content. (For reasons unbeknownst, I could not access the permanent link this morning, so to read the original, please use Google advanced search, type in the title (above) and append Take One; then repeat the procedure with Take Two. Sorry!)

When Paid Content editor Staci Kramer posed the question to the e-zine’s readers, the responses were understandably all over the map. Media firms are breaking out of their old silos and converging on the Web. Newspapers, television and radio stations all produce content in multiple forms. For instance, the San Francisco Chronicle (where I work when not on vacation, as I am today) started in print shortly after the Gold Rush, began one of the first newspaper web sites (SFGate.com) more than a decade ago, and today lists a string of podcasts and mixed audio/photography offerings on the Podcast Directory. So what is a media company today could boil down to this: firms that manage to make money.

One of the voices that popped up to answer the question was that of Eli Chapman, a co-founder of Unmediated.org, which appears to be a gathering spot for the tools, techniques and people that are making Staci’s question so difficult to answer.

I am frankly embarrassed to have only now discovered Unmediated but, after all, I began this blog with the presumption that I had much to learn and, so far, I have been right. One of the tidbits that caught my attention was an Unmediated Q&A with Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan, the creative duo behind the Googlezon video clips.(If you’re not familiar, they’re pseudo-documentaries that postulate a Google-centric media universe within a decade; the Q&A contains link to the originals.)

Thompson and Sloan are at the cutting edge of whatever is happening with media, and Sloan’s closing quip suggests they’re mystified: “What I wanna know,” he says, “is when are we gonna start getting PAID? (Hey, would anybody buy an EPIC t-shirt?)”

What a liberating admission! I have asked the exact same question in this blog, and have suggested that we’ll be forced to give away content and earn our keep by selling artifacts like t-shirts and personalized magazines.

So when I hear guys like these express bewilderment about business models, three thoughts come to mind. First, if they sell a Googlezon t-shirt, I will buy it. Second, thank God for my day job! And third, I’m on vacation, so it’s time I started to act like it.

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media