Hello! Welcome to The Media Spy, yet another newsletter to collect dust in your inbox until you decide to unsubscribe. This is going to be an experiment of sorts, as I swim through this real thing called life (or until I land my next gig). And I thank you for being a companion on this ride.
The last time I produced a media newsletter, I started it because I was laid off. History, it seems, has a way of repeating itself. (Only this time, I have two kids, not one; there’s a global pandemic swirling around us; I have fewer hairs on my head; and I hope that I don’t go nine months without a job.)
You probably came to this from one of two places, LinkedIn or Twitter, so you probably know a little about me, but in case you don’t, here’s the tl:dr—I’ve worked across many areas in media for 20 years, from professor to PR pro to media reporter to branded content guy to editor and newsroom leader.
So what’s this newsletter about? Great question. It’ll be a mix of reporting and thoughtful analysis (some call this “insights” but that’s become industry jargon, so I choose not to use it. Also, you will not see the words “launch” or “utilize”). Because who doesn’t want more hot takes about the media business?
The newsletter will get down and dirty into the mechanics of the media business, how it makes money (the buy-side; the sell-side; print, digital, tv, streaming; ad tech; you’ll get it all here, folks), but also lean on my academic background to bring some media criticism to the table.
Over the last few years, I’ve been more interested in the reporting of the business, arguing that anyone can be a critic. This newsletter will have a dose of criticism, rooted in media theory, but also attempt to explain how it ties to the function of the business itself. Agenda Setting Theory is real, but press critics rarely tie the frame of a narrative to the business operations. We’ll try it here!
And while this isn’t a newsletter with investigative journalism at its heart, it will try to bring into focus the opacity of the media business and hold companies accountable. It will also have lots of Phish and Grateful Dead references.
As a reader, you’ll get a round up of a few media stories, tweets, posts each day that are of interest to me (and maybe you?) about the business of media. I’ll also do Q&As with industry executives, notables, and pretty much anyone who will talk to me. Maybe even get some guest writers.
We’ll also build a community of media lovers and watchers and doers (there are LOTS of us) -- and yes, I know, there are already tons of these, so why this one? Well, why not Sternberg?
When I was laid off a couple weeks ago, I received an incredible amount of love and support from the media industry. It was surprising and overwhelming. The last six weeks have been hard for everyone, including the media business. And many media reporters covering the impact of the coronavirus on the industry have treated it with respect and empathy.
Before I left the outlet I worked for, I created a place for those who have been furloughed or laid off to tell us their stories. While that irony is not lost on me, I do want to continue the idea. If you’ve been laid off, let go, furloughed, or had your freelance opportunities dry up, and you need someone to talk to, drop me a line. Let me know how I can help, and I’ll try. Even if it’s just an ear.
So let’s get back on the train. I hope you'll stay, but I won’t be offended if you leave. If you have a tip or thoughts to share, send ‘em my way.
I’m aiming to do this everyday, but we shall see. Content TK.
Thank you for allowing me in your inbox, and thank you for joining the team.
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