Project 21

As traditional media outlets grapple with how to sustain what seems to be an ever-shrinking audience, too often, they sacrifice their authoritative voice in hopes of being trendy and to grab eyeballs.

As a result, we see more “running commentaries” or tweets about an event rather than a measured analysis. There’s an over-reliance on charts and visuals when they might not be necessary. And most-viewed YouTube videos are used to create a buzz instead of developing original content that could be just as gripping.

I’m not against new forms of storytelling; I enjoy them. I just think that many outlets can do a better job of using them, and with the right flair, can give the reader something more engaging than they might find through random clicks.

The review is a good example of a seemingly rigid fixture that can be reimagined through video, Twitter, YouTube and other mediums while drawing in the viewer, listener or reader.

Most people start getting excited for a concert days before the event actually occurs. Why shouldn’t the outlets covering these events reflect the same? Instead of just running a preview of an event, or an interview with the main performer or performers, a news organization could start piquing interest with an analyses of a musician’s career, let’s say, using YouTube to show performance highlights, or charticles to show their trajectory in album or concert sales.

As a concert grows nearer, perhaps readers or viewers could be tapped for a fixture that lets them explain, for example, what is the artist’s best song, and why. These can be sent via YouTube, tweets or short articles or even haikus. Maybe the best one can win tickets to the show.

A day before the concert, short audio clips could run of the expected songs; a graphic using popular set listings that appear after concerts predict how likely the artist was to veer away from his or her set list, or how improvisational they are.

The day of the concert, the fan that wins tickets could be assigned to tweet their concert review; that review would not only appear online, but could even appear in the paper the next day, with the tease of the “official” review to come.

When the review by the main critic runs, it should be rich with links from content from the past week. There should also be other content, from articles to interviews to links to other acts the artist might be compared to, to give the reader the research that they often seek on their own after reading an article. Broadcast or radio pieces won’t be able to do this on air, of course, but can provide the same wealth of links when they rerun their pieces online.

After the concert is over, if the event was big enough or created enough buzz, or the disparity between the fan review and the “official” review was wide, a face-off could appear, via video, through a text piece, or both.

This would be a dynamic way to bring in an audience, and make them feel like they were a part of the process, instead of just digesting it.