Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Protected: PLEDGE: The Downside of Data

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Written by Interviewer

March 22, 2018 at 06:02

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Pledge Free Streaming

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Stream

Quick, if you could listen to music versus music but with a lot of unrelated talking mixed in, which would you choose?

For listeners to public radio pledge drives, pledge free streaming makes the answer an obvious one.  The technology, first introduced in 2011, gives paying listeners the choice to link their device to a code that is activated when they contribute.  And for the length of the drive or until the next one, they listen without pledge pitches.

Simple.  Elegant.

But for stations, it’s a different question; If I have to choose between a pledge drive which has worked raising money for the last 40 years versus a technology that has only been around for seven years, which makes more business sense?  Pledge free streaming has the potential to not only eliminate drives that a large percentage of listeners have made clear they hate.  It also has the potential to raise tons of money in the spirit of something akin to a Netflix subscription.

The technology, though, also might diminish the one-on-one stations have with listeners at pledge drive time.  The personal testimonies, the challenge grants, the giveaways.  How would all of those other streams be affected if algorithms for payment and listening take over?

It’s a question I address in my upcoming book, PLEDGE: The Public Radio Fund Drive.  But for now,  here’s a funny example of a pledge free stream concept, produced by Noah Madrano for @Sub Human Intellectual Theater @KBOO with graphics by my book’s cover designer, Karen Green.
https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Written by Interviewer

February 28, 2018 at 06:23

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Protected: PLEDGE Excerpt – Introduction

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Written by Interviewer

February 25, 2018 at 15:03

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Error in Fact

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Rainbows and Unicorns

Forbes said in a 2013 article that as of then, a million or more books were published in the U.S.  OK, except a New York Times article said that as of 2002, only 80,000 were published in the U.S.  OK, except I can’t believe the number of published books has jumped by 920,000 in 10 years.  I mean, Amazon is powerful but it’s not THAT powerful.  Especially with all of the dour talk about declining book sales, the introduction of Kindles way back when and the disappearance of Joseph Beth and Little Professor’s along the way.

But this isn’t about bookstores.  It’s about credibility of reporting.  Neither article cites its sources for its numbers.  Maybe because it’s Forbes and the Times, both editors felt company names speak for themselves then and now.  But as I work on my own book; a book I’ve sweated and cursed and exhausted myself over for the last three years, I wonder will people trust my research considering these plain and simple examples of journalistic inconsistency from those at much higher levels than me?

Like, when a well known writer for a well known media outlet told me by email that they didn’t know if a fact I quoted from a piece they’d written was correct.  Excuse me?  They didn’t say they couldn’t remember.  They didn’t say the facts had changed.  They said they didn’t know.  And as gingerly as I could, I prodded to know if they knew that as they were writing, or did they come to know it over time?  And either way, why would they put it in their piece or not offer a correction?

I have busted my ass to make this, my first book, to be as good as I can make it.  It may not be as good as I hope my writing will eventually be.  But I’ve been a reporter for a long time. I know how to research.  And I expect I also know how to tell the truth and how to feel like crap if I even suspect that I haven’t.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2013/11/05/how-to-market-and-sell-your-book-in-five-steps/#6d26093d46d5

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/28/opinion/think-you-have-a-book-in-you-think-again.html,

Image from meriahnichols.com

Written by Interviewer

February 14, 2018 at 02:54

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Dark Art

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Broken Light Bulb

I was listening to the Friday News Roundtable, a feature of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Outloud” news program and heard something that made the dark art aspect of my training switch on.  I’ve spent my life in journalism, writing and hopefully, creative thought.  But as I’ve often mentioned here and other places, people with skills can use them for good or bad.  That is, they have the ability to see effective uses for a tool, whether it is doing what some would call creating or doing what some would call destroying.  The thought itself is ambivalent.  Like scientists who never ask, “Just because we can do it, should we?”, a potential application is instantly seen in binary form; it can be a pharmaceutical plant, or it can be a chemical weapons factory.

So, I hear host Dave Miller mention how a new ballot measure, Measure 101, will soon push itself to the front of the attention of Oregonians after the beginning of the year.  The measure, which imposes taxes on hospitals and health care providers, will bring along with it, federal matching funds, giving the state up to $320-million to help it fund its programs.  The opponents to the measure, those same hospitals and health care providers, are no doubt looking for ways (as such corporations are often wont to do) to argue against or otherwise obfuscate the issue.  And in that moment, when one of the guests said, “To most Oregonians, 101 is a highway,” I had it.  “What about,” the dark side asks, “a commercial that is nothing but surfer music and gorgeous shots of the iconic Highway 101 from the perspective of a shiny, sexy red convertable.”  Bazinga!

It would be hypnotic in its beauty and, in a subtle way, make people think of 101 in terms of escape, rather than of trying to understand complicated healthcare tax policy in the dead of winter.  It could help tilt the perception of the voters by confusing the issue in their minds.  Then, the arguments started in my head.  “How can you even think about making such tools, such weapons?”  “Because I can,” says the bad angel.  “You know people wouldn’t be that easily manipulated, don’t you?”  “Wouldn’t they,” asks the bad angel?  “You’re evil.”  “Nope, just fruitful,” smiles the bad angel.

Like ABC’s sweet Robin Roberts calling, “Bye Felicia” after a fuming Omarosa was booted out on her ass from the White House, the dark art of say, language, is in even her.  “Calm down,” says dark angel on my shoulder.  “You win all the time.  I’m just having a little stretch.”

Written by Interviewer

December 16, 2017 at 04:20

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Tick Tock, You Don’t Stop

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Time Master

Occasionally, I write something about gear.  Right now, I want to talk about a very handy little device that you may not think much about unless you need to do some precise time juggling and you realize only this can do it.  I’m talking about a time calculator.  It’s amazing what a time calculator can do.  I first saw them used by the Traffic & Continuity Department at an Armed Forces Broadcasting facility in Europe.  Then, I got one around the time of working for FEMA as a PA during Katrina and Rita.  That one disappeared, but I’ve had another one for about two years.  From Calculated Industries, it adds and subtracts hours, minutes and seconds, and converts time in decimals to hours, minutes and seconds.  It converts 12 to 24 hours settings and from A.M to P.M.  Also, a timer and a stopwatch.  A remarkable little device.   

Written by Interviewer

November 9, 2017 at 02:29

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“Let’s Listen.”

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Let's Listen

I’m noticing more public radio reporters saying this before their stories.  It reminds me of when NPR began saying, “Live, from NPR news” before each newscast.  Is it designed to invite listeners into a closer relationship with the storytelling, in a “C’mon, let’s go!” kind of way?  Being more personal with listeners by asking them directly to come along for the ride?  To invest themselves at that moment?  If I hear it throughout public radio’s news offerings, I’ll bet it’s based on some memo somewhere about a new set of psychographics that suggests it will help boost pledge drive giving.

Written by Interviewer

November 1, 2017 at 07:55

Posted in Scratchpad