Drive-By Journalism, Media Bias, the Case of the Disappearing Client and the Gospel According to John (Wagner)

Being on vacation is great for letting the mind wander. The problem is getting your mind back once you return.

I’m still on vacation, so forgive the following items, as they were written without the benefit of my brain. If you like this better than my usual columns, however, please let me know and I’ll do my best to lose my mind more often:

Drive-By Journalism – People standing at freeway on-ramps selling flowers or fruit is not unusual where I live (Orange County, CA). But in Honolulu, a man stopped our airport shuttle to sell us a local newspaper.

Now, as a distribution model this is fraught with challenges, from lights that turn green too fast to getting your fingers stuck in car windows. Worse, this happened around Noon, so either this was an afternoon paper hot off the presses or a matter of some poor shlub trying to unload a product for hours with no success. Either way, I have seen the future of newspapers, and it’s covered in skid marks. In Hawaii, print is not just where words go to die (as Jeff Jarvis says), but where words get run over.

Is There Anybody Out There? – So a client hires my agency to plan and execute an online grassroots marketing campaign. We get a budget, we put a team together, we ask the client some follow-up questions…and then silence. No communication. E-mails are ignored, calls are not returned. It’s been two weeks, the launch is supposed to be in early July, and I’m about as dumb-founded as I was when I learned that everybody, in fact, did not love Raymond.

Anyone have a similar experience? If so, let me know how you solved it in ways that didn’t involve stalking or curling into a little ball and sobbing quietly.

It’s All in How You Look At It – Bill Bennett and many other conservatives – including President Bush – blasted “the media” for publishing stories about security-related information and jeopardizing ongoing investigations, and then getting rewarded with Pulitzer Prizes. So is this any different than the President rewarding the people responsible for screwing up our security with Congressional Medals of Freedom?

This Internet Thing – A local coffee grower in Kona told us that he has had to hire extra people and rethink their production process because of increased demand from the Internet, which represented a whopping 30 percent growth in the past year alone. Oh, and that’s with no advertising, no blogs or RSS or search marketing wizardry – just word-of-mouth and plain vanilla Google results. And the coffee was pretty good, too.

No Media, All (Okay, Most) of the Time – Yes, I picked up a Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine. I read the local Honolulu paper once (bought it at the hotel, not on the freeway). But other than that I enjoyed a weeklong media blackout, with no daily paper, no CNN, and no RSS feeds. I took a page from the Book of John Wagner and decided to live like a normal person for a while, one not saturated in media, discussions about media, and comments about discussions about media.

It was nice, I admit. I survived and I still feel like I’m part of the planet. Sure, I’ll go back to my media-filled ways next week – after all, it’s my job. But in my version of paradise there are only three things: Palm trees, ocean breezes and Lemon Drop martinis. If you see Anderson Cooper, drop your glass and run like hell.

Aloha – and Mahalo for your time.

3 thoughts on “Drive-By Journalism, Media Bias, the Case of the Disappearing Client and the Gospel According to John (Wagner)

  1. i really think most print products are gonna be given away for free in the future. it’s part of my plan/goal in the grassroots arena. i’ve been doing a lot of talking to people who ‘just buy’ the sunday paper and don’t think that’s worth the money they spend. a free alternative would be gobbled up.
    just some random thoughts somewhat connected to one of yours 😉

  2. Sounds like you had an awesome trip. I’ve found it’s not enough to just go on vacation anymore … you have to put all the electronic stuff away, too!

  3. Amen, Brother John 🙂 I did bring my computer, of course, and I only got interrupted by client work three or four times (via my mobile phone), which is pretty good for me! Not sure if I can go cold turkey, but this was as least a start…

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