The media coverage about the death of Maestro Rostropovich has been, I will say, very poor.
The usual profile stories.
Only a few newspapers presented the sad news on their front pages.
We had more coverage about the last speech of Putin than about the legacy of Rostropovich.
Like the news from the massacre at Virginia Tech, our media prefers villians to heroes.
But readers need and want stories about role models.
And Rostropovich was one of them.
A few years ago, INNOVATION did a prototype for a new quality compact paper called Nuevo Diario (New Daily).
Juan Kindelan and Jose Maria Garcia Hoz, founders of Recoletos Compañía de Comunicacion, wanted a different kind of back page for their new paper.
Ally Palmer, an INNOVATION design consultant, Carlos Soria, our president, and I discussed this issue and we came out with a new page called VALUES.
The idea was to end the paper with positive stories.
This is one of the prototypes that we did.
As you can see, we selected two cases of VALUES:
The FRIENDSHIP between Queen Sofia and Rostropovich.
And the COURAGE of a whistleblower broker of Putman.
It’s time for more real heroes.
Spain’s Princess Letizia, the wife of Crown Prince Felipe, has given birth to the couple’s second daughter, the Spanish royal court announced Sunday, breaking news that came via SMS from the press office of the royal family.
At the time, one of Prince Felipe’s sisters was in Barcelona watching Rafael Nadal win his third straight Open Seat Godo championship Sunday, defeating Guillermo Canas 6-3, 6-4 for his 72nd consecutive victory on clay.
An observer saw that she got a phone call minutes before the official announcement.
Again a cellular phone breaking news.
The Queen of Spain was in Moscow attending the burial of her close friend, Maestro Rostropovich.
I am sure that she also got the good news from a cellular phone.
Photo from elpais.es
Forbes magazine, at 90, includes this piece writen by Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation.
In his own words:
-”Media companies don’t control the conversation anymore, at least not to the extent that we once did.”
Of course a film is going to be a success if it’s the only movie available on a Saturday night.
Similarly, when three networks divided up a nation of 200 million, life was a lot easier for television executives.
And not so very long ago most of the daily newspapers that survived the age of consolidation could count themselves blessed with monopolies in their home cities.
All that has changed.
Fans of small niches can now find new content they could never before.”
-”People’s expectations of media have undergone a revolution.
They are no longer content to be a passive audience; they insist on being participants, on creating their own material and finding others who will want to read, listen and watch.
Consequently the old media are threatened by the erosion of our traditional profit centers.”
-”People want content more than ever, and there is a role for companies that can provide good stuff — “good” being the operative word.
Quality is more important than ever, because the marketplace is more ruthlessly competitive.”
“Old media can survive — and thrive — in this new environment, but they must adapt.
We must learn how younger generations of consumers prefer to receive their news and entertainment, and we must meet those expectations.
The good news is that we are learning — and fast.
Take the type of media I know best — news. News is in more demand than ever, but the vast network of Internet-savvy news junkies want their news with several fresh twists: constantly updated, relevant to their daily lives, complete with commentary and analysis, and presented in a way that allows them to interact not just with the news but with each other about the news.
They won’t wait until six o’clock to watch the news on television or until the next morning to read it in isolation.
This plainly provides a challenge for news providers but also an opportunity to be far more engaged with the audience.
Companies that take advantage of this new meaning of network and adapt to the expectations of the networked consumer can look forward to a new golden age of media.
Far be it from me to suggest that either I or my company have all the answers.
No one does.
But the future of media is a future of relentless experimentation and innovation, accelerating change, and — for those who embrace the new ways in which consumers are connecting with each other — enormous potential.”
We at INNOVATION have recently updated our more than 10-year-old vision for the future of this industry.
It was “From Media Companies to Information Engines.”
Now it is:
“From Media Companies to Information Engines.
From Readers to Audiences.
From Audiences to Communities.”
I am in Russia and it has been a rainy, melancholy evening here in Moscow.
The Moscow Conservatory, a few yards from my Marriott hotel, has cancelled today’s musical function.
At 8 p.m., I was inside Coffeemanía, one of the most interesting places to see the Moscowian’s of the future, and I decided to say my last Goodbye to Maestro Rostropovich.
His body is on the third floor of the building.
You take 62 steps, turn to the right, enter the Great Concert Hall and there are the family and more than 800 people sitting silently waiting for the last concert for the Maestro of Maestros.
This is the traditional place for memorial services for celebrated musicians.
But now there are no celebrities, kings, queens, ambassadors, politicians, oligarchs or bureaucrats.
Just regular people.
Old Russian ladies.
And me, sitting a few meters from the stage.
It’s a 30 minute concert with 40 violins, 40 cellos and more than 80 singers there for the last farewell to Rostropovich.
The conductor ends the dramatic concert and Rostropovich’s body leaves the hall.
These magic 33 seconds are my first video on YouTube with my Canon photo camera.
There were no TV cameras, so these must be unique images and sounds.
I leave the hall and in one of the books, I write my message:
BRAVO MAESTRO, BRAVO!
Back at the hotel I turned on my cellular phone.
I had turned it off during the concert, but another one started to ring while the violins, cellos and singers were playing…
Oh well, nobody protested.
All of us knew that the Maestro’s body was here but his soul was in Heaven, and fortunately, you don’t get calls there.
This was an unique, memorable and free concert.
We paid the last tribute to the Maestro of Maestros and we were in Heaven, too, and you don’t need tickets or reservations to go there.
A new lifting.
It will not solve the problems of this paper.
Try to read this paper on the subway or a London bus.
This paper needs:
A new format (berliner or tabloid).
More human stories.
Some genuine British humour.
A lot of color.
So, a subtle redesign here is just a distraction.
Just follow the lesson of the Deutschland FT.
Or El Economista.
The new financial newspaper that INNOVATION designed in Madrid.
Roy Greensland (The Guardian media blogger) commented on my recent post about Janet Robinson and the lack of leadership in The New York Times Company, and he got this interesting reaction from a former executive:
The Times has been trading on its brand for many years and was making so much money in the eighties and nineties that we employees used to joke that we were literally printing money in the basement on 43rd Street.
At the time, the Times was very paternalistic, employees were nurtured, loyalty was rewarded and hard work often recognized. At one time, the elder Sulzberger surrounded himself with smart, respected minds; John Pomfret, Lance Primis, Walter Mattson and Sydney Gruson. Board members included Lou Gerstner from IBM. We were proud to say we worked the Times.
But, the family’s leadership changed. Punch retired as did his advisors. Arthur Jr. stepped in and he and Lance Primis sparred for years and in a final show down, Lance left the company and the leadership of the business department ultimately fell to the ineffectual, first Janet and then Dan Cohen, 1st cousin of the publisher and a known sufferer of bi-polar disorder, the perfect personality for an ad director!
When it was clear that the inmates had succeeded in running the asylum, I, along with most of my contemporaries jumped ship. It certainly didn’t help business and the ad and marketing staffs have suffered for years from a serious brain drain.
No doubt, the Times is still a great product – however it may exist in the future. It’s always outlived its employees and hopefully, the Sulzbergers now in charge.