Everyone likes a feel good story.
It’s part of the reason why the latest online viral video sensation is the story of Ted Williams – a homeless Columbus, Ohio man who was a former radio broadcaster. This is an amazing story (and you can watch the video that started it all below), but it’s also another shot against the bow of traditional journalism as we’ve known it to date.
"Just post it on the Web or something."
A story about a homeless person rarely makes waves. It’s not the type of story you see kicking off the evening news on CBS or on the front page of your daily newspaper. It rarely makes it on the local news radio and there are not that many magazine features about people like Williams. Doral Chenoweth III is a videographer for The Columbus Dispatch. He had seen a sign that Williams was holding up by a freeway panhandling about how he has a great voice for broadcasting. The video of their encounter (which was originally posted to Disptach.com) is now clocking in at 8 million views on YouTube. Now, Williams is on the CBS News (and Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel), he’s had multiple offers from companies like NFL Films, countless radio and TV stations and other offers of help and work.
It took us… not them.
What brought this story into our hearts wasn’t the work of great editors or producers… it was the work of the new journalists. People like Chenoweth III, who are beginning to see that a truly great story doesn’t need a gatekeeper… it just needs a home. Social Media is this home. It is an instant publishing channel that treats all pieces of content equally. How far that piece travels and who it reaches it not based on a fixed distribution system or promise of reach. It’s based on who passes the story around (and well beyond YouTube and into other channels like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc…).
A nose for news.
The new journalism (and the new Marketing) is about having a nose for news. It’s about being able to tell a story that will connect with people. If no one is following you on Twitter or posting to your Facebook page or watching your videos on YouTube, here’s the cold, hard truth: it’s not resonating. Watch the story of Ted Williams. Think about this videographer and the story they uncovered. There are more stories like Ted Williams – where the mass public will see it and feel it… and act on it. The new journalism (and the new Marketing) won’t be a as heavily reliable on the traditional media channels, because now we have other ways to get stories to spread and reach critical mass. We’ve been waiting for the Web to truly deliver on this promise… and now it can.
This is the new journalism. This is the new marketing.