It will just take a few minutes, and you won’t be sorry.
Watch this video, in which the actor Kevin Spacey talks about how House of Cards came to find its home and its audience on Netflix. Listen to what he has to say about story, audiences and interactivity.
It’s pretty obvious that the journalism industry is still paying the price for disregarding its audience, failing to listen and refusing to adapt (soon enough) to disruptive technology. People aren’t just watching the great stuff on HBO and Netflix and Showtime or wherever because they’re addicted to TV; they’re watching because of the quality and because their friends and family are watching, too. And because they can watch on any device they’d like, whenever and wherever they want to. (Plus, it’s fun to share and talk to other people about the shows we love because that conversation connects us to each other. “Do you like Skyler on “Breaking Bad”? Not so much? Why not? I love her. I think she’s a very authentic character.”)
Spacey says they’re watching because they love stories. That doesn’t change. Cavemen scratched accounts of their hunts onto walls, sharing those experiences with the other cave people. An estimated 500 million people are now on Twitter, telling each other stuff.
Think about story. Can you find it in that haze of “sources” and research and anxiety about the writing, and getting it right, making that deadline? Did you think about the reader and what he/she could bring to our understanding before we get too far, and what he/she would most want to know about and find most interesting?
Did you write when you should have shot a 60-second video? Is it just a Tweet and a link? Or should you be asking for more time to really get at the soul of the thing because that other, quick story has been told a million times before and really doesn’t work anymore?
Too often, we’re still megaphoning and hoping people will just pick up the sound, somehow. They’re out there, somewhere, are audience. Surely they’ll hear us.
Or maybe not. Maybe we’re just talking to ourselves.
I read this story last night, without pause. It’s about the parents of a little boy who was killed at Newtown. I think I stopped breathing, at one point. It’s as long as it needs to be — an amazing story, one I didn’t even know I was craving until I read it. It really got to the soul of a tragedy. I thanked the friend on FB who shared it.
This weekend, pay quiet and conscious attention to the content you consume. The content, not the news. Blog about it. What drew you to those things? What did you share? Why?