Rachel Maddow's Internet HustleLook, yet another good fact has emerged about Rachel Maddow, already the favorite news anchor of elitist coastal liberals simply by virtue of being a normal person (funny how that works!). Whereas most television news personalities are only "engaged" in the internet in the sense that they occasionally glance over their ghost-written blog posts before an underling posts them, Maddow actually made the following statement: "I care about Nielsen ratings, but I also care about Technorati searches.” Is she the future of news media people? Yes she is, and we'll tell you why. Could it be that part of the reason that the online world has so much love for Maddow is that she loves the online world back? It's crazy, but it just might be true! For example, she Tweets. Presumably with her own hands! And you have to figure that her 6,000 Twitter followers include at least several thousand bloggers, some of whom run blogs that are actually influential. Since internet memes often grow out of groupthink, her mere twitterings may have had an outrageously large impact on her positive reputation in the blogosphere, which is now equally influential, in ideas at least, to the mainstream media. Crazy! Further:
Ms. Maddow had cultivated an online fan base for years while at Air America, posting comments on blogs and creating videos for YouTube. “I practically live online,” she said in an interview.
She came up from the bottom of the media, yo. From a place where she had to build an audience herself wherever she could if she wanted people to pay attention to her. People who write blogs are familiar with this dynamic. You know who's not? Just about every traditional TV news person! That's because the process of rising up through the ranks in TV news usually involves a slow climb from local TV to the networks, which requires a totally different skill set than blogging does. Online self-promotion is not, traditionally, the way you get TV news jobs—you get them by wooing a select handful of decision makers, and getting your face on camera as much as possible. What Maddow has proved is that being a Friend of the Internet from day one can pay off. Hell, she beat Larry King when she started. She already had a built-in fan base, and didn't have to rely on the network itself to promote her flashily enough to catch the attention of channel-flippers. So even if, for example, Katie Couric has a "blog" on the CBS news site, most people who read blogs regularly can damn well sense the whiff of corporate bullshit involved in it. The lesson here is, people who are already known on the internet can be valuable crossover commodities. And media stars who think they're above having to hustle online will come to learn that, no, they still have to hustle online. The future is normal people with Twitter accounts becoming our trusted news stars. A good thing? Yes, except for the Twitter part. [TV Decoder; pic by Paul Shoul]