The new generation of writers and PR people who are unable to find jobs are joining groups, going to school, and starting their own websites in a bid to carve out a living.
We recently attended two events for “entrepreneurs” and found the second to be even more depressing than the first.
Here is an opinion from another attendee on the second event Sept. 24 on a terrace of the Empire Hotel opposite Lincoln Center:
I got to the meet-up around 6:00 and there were only a handful of people scattered across a large patio. It was hard to know who was there for the event and who was just a hotel guest or tourist admiring the view.
I bought a drink and hung around for a few minutes to see if more people would come or if people would start to circulate. But more people weren't coming, no one was really mingling and I found it awkward to try to insert myself into people's conversations when I wasn't sure if they were there for the event. So I left.
I know that it's hard to predict an event's turnout or the vibes it will have. But it was a frustrating experience that could have been handled better.
Nametags, goofy as they may be, would have at least helped me know who was there for the event. Having a host near the entrance to say hello and point out who else was part of the event and maybe do some introducing/ice breaking would have helped, too.
That is an opinion by Eileen Gunn of Brooklyn, who operates the website www.familiesgotravel.com, which gives advice to families going on the road. A glass of wine, by the way, was $15.47.
Her sentiments mirror ours. This group was about as unfriendly as the Investigative Reporters & Editors of New York whose event we went to Sept. 10 at the Yotel on Tenth ave. and 42nd st.
There was no host to greet people at that event and do-it-yourself stick-on name tags were only belatedly handed out. Mine fell off.
A cluster of about 15 people were off to one side of the terrace at the Sept. 24 event and were said to be journalists by one of the organizers. But when we went to say hello to them, they denied they were journalists. They were sitting down and chatting among themselves, a no-no at an event where people should be standing around with name tags eager to meet new people.
This event was hosted by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism which is promoting both a one-semester Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism for $4,910 and a four-semester M.A. in the same subject.
No E-mail Lists Available
Worst of all, from both our viewpoint and that of the attendees, was the lack of information about the writers. Their names are posted on the websites for both events but no contact information such as e-mails, phones or addresses. Somehow they are afraid to give out such information although plenty of other writers do.
Columnist David Carr of the New York Times signs all his articles with firstname.lastname@example.org and sports writer George Vecsey signs with email@example.com.
Almost all of the writers at the New York Post supply e-mails at the end of their stories.
So why are the young writers so afraid to identify themselves? They have put on the shackles of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (which are making fortunes) instead of using phone calls, e-mails and F2F, which are far better means of communication.
The new, electronic-based forms of communication have replaced far superior forms that were the norms in New York PR/journalism groups a couple of decades ago.
Standard at 24 PR groups were lunches and dinners preceded by a cocktail period when conversations took place and then a sit-down meal where topics were further explored. An expert of some type spoke and took questions. There was actual intellectual activity.
Companies and agencies picked up the checks. But not any more. For where some of the money went look no further than the four conglomerates that bought up so many ad agencies and PR firms. Philippe Krakowsky, former PR person at BBDO and Young & Rubicam, who joined Interpublic in 2002 as SVP-CC and became XVP and chief strategy and talent officer in 2011, had a pay package of $3,290,492 in 2012. CEO John Wren and CFO Randy Weisenburger of Omnicom took home $84.8M in pay and stock sales in 20012 alone. Debt of IPG, WPP, Omnicom and Publicis totaled $14.36 billion as of Sept. 27.
What was done with those funds is a question that deserves exploring.
Journalists Block Communication
Sarah Cohen of the NYT, one of the organizers of the IRE Sept. 28 “Meet-Up,” refused to provide a list of the e-mails of the 60+ registrants or do a blast e-mail herself to the group.
We wanted to offer the writers free access to the 700-volume O’Dwyer library as well as free access to our website. We wanted them to read our essays on the troubled state of journalism.
Jeremy Caplan, director of education, Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, who was at the Sept. 28 meeting, similarly refused to provide e-mails of the registrants or do an e-mail blast to them.
Both Cohen and Caplan advised us to seek e-mail addresses by searching each of the names. We tried that but ran into roadblocks set up by Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn that make that an arduous task. Direct contact is impossible in many cases. Charges of one type or another are often specified.
Worse Yet—Gunn’s Critique Was Removed
When we went to double-check the Gunn comment on the Meet-Up website, we found it had been removed. Luckily, it was part of an e-mail we had downloaded.
Such action is a journalistic atrocity of the first rank.
We then posted a comment asking what happened to Gunn’s comment. Caplan replied on the website: “We don’t see the comments board as a place for complaints or personal attacks or any other content that isn’t of benefit to the group as a whole.”
That is about as lame an excuse as we have ever seen. The comment should be restored. At the next Meet-Up, CUNY should have nametags ready, there should be a host who greets people, and someone should address the group, make a statement, and answer questions.
How can CUNY teach journalism if it is not going to practice it?
New School Event on Journalism Is Promising
Having hit intellectual dry holes at the Sept. 10 and Sept. 24 events, our hopes have been raised by an event Oct. 8 at 6:30 at the New School on W. 13th st. titled, “Media Disruption: The New Normal.”
The School notes that the NYT sold off the Boston Globe “for a fraction of its worth a few years back,” that the founder of Amazon “snapped up” the Washington Post, and that “little known BT Media is taking ownership of Newsweek.” We’re hopeful of a serious discussion.
CUNY is raising its profile in the New York journalism community in several ways.
Its facilities at 219 W. 40th st. were used by the Deadline Club of New York, part of the Society of Professional Journalists, for a 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Social Media Bootcamp” for writers Sept. 28. Cost was $45 for members and $75 for non-members and included lunch. Speakers included Lauren Johnston, an editorial director, New York Daily News; Eric Carvin, social media editor, AP, and Rebecca Davis, digital producer, NBC News.
Startup, Freelance Websites Explode
CUNY will have an open house Wednesday Oct. 9 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Center and will host a “demo night for startups” Tuesday, Oct. 22 starting at 6:30 at the school. Cost is $5 per person.
Media startups that will be discussed include www.metaLayer.com and www.thebigroundtable.com.
Startup and freelance associations have proliferated throughout the U.S. and include the Editorial Freelancers Assn., www.the-efa.org, at 71 W. 23rd st, New York. One reason for all the freelancers is that tens of thousands of newspaper reporting jobs have disappeared because newspaper ad revenues plunged from $49.2 billion in 2006 to $25.3B.
The website www.engine.is has organized an annual “Startup Day on the Hill” which has won support of Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
Engine’s goal is to “improve the entrepreneurial environment by providing knowledge to both lawmakers and startups about the issues that impact our community.”
Eighteen startups met with the chief tech officer at the White House on Feb. 26-27 and also talked to Senators and Representatives.
CommPro.biz Succeeds in PR/IR/Mktg.
A successful startup in communications is www.commpro.biz, which will celebrate its third anniversary Oct. 18. Now owned by Fay Shapiro, it has established itself as a platform for news, data and events in corporate communications, PR, IR, advertising and digital communications. “We bring together thought leaders working in all aspects of communication,” she said.
A current posting asks, “Are the biggest roadblocks to women’s career success our own?” Other postings explored on-demand video and on-air storytelling.