Sunday, February 12, 2006

Making things simpler

I want to call your attention to an engaging story in the Business section of today's New York Times, a profile of advertising innovator Robert Greenberg. He's a fascinating guy and the story does a good job describing how and why he thinks advertising is changing fundamentally.

But specifically, I'd like to encourage you to think about the central thesis of his argument, because I think it speaks as much to what we do as to the advertising side of the house. As I read it, the money paragraph is this:
The background music in Mr. Greenberg's little symphony is, of course, the Internet and other technological leaps like the cellphone, which are upending the advertising and marketing industries in much the same way that they have begun to turn businesses as varied as media, entertainment, retail and communications on their heads ... "I think things are going to get infinitely more complex," he adds, "and the challenge is about taking things that are infinitely complex and making them simpler and more understandable."
This has application to what we do on every platform, but it's especially true about the newspaper. I wrote Wednesday about the paper's emerging role as a daily briefing that helps orient people awash in the data smog of modern life. You're adopting crucial techniques like the Five-Minute Bee, front-page summaries, rails, layers of information and the like. The questions embrace design, story selection, types of content.

Have you seen The Week magazine? It's positioned as "Everything you need to know about everything that matters," and the print magazine is a good collection of overviews, sumamries, digests and the like. I'd recommend looking at a copy.

1 comment:

  1. I subscribed to The Week for a full year and enjoyed it, as it compressed a week's worth of news into a train ride home from the big city. I don't think it has caught on all that well in the U.S.; frankly, it faces the same challenge against Web aggregators like Google news that we do - except that we have the edge of putting an issue out every day.

    We have a "two-minute" news summary here in Modesto, shorter than the "five-minute Bee." I'm not sure whether that means our coverage is shallower, or readers' attention span is shorter. Maybe a little of both. :)