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April 25, 2007

Andrew Heyward talks about the media

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:26 AM

I sat down today with Andrew Heyward, who ran CBS News for nearly 10 years. These days, he's on the board of directors for The NewsMarket, a site that provides free video to media organizations and soon, bloggers. Heyward was meeting with Microsoft and other NewsMarket clients in downtown Seattle.

Here are some of his thoughts on the media and technology:

On how television news has changed lately:
The evening news landscape has seen radical changes, he said, with anchor turnover in all three major networks. And more than ever, television news is struggling with how to attract new audiences to the genre, and how to monetize that. Television news is a very traditional industry, he said, and now is seeing a dramatic expansion of experimentation.
"It's not yet clear what's going to emerge with the solid, substantive results traditional media has had for many years."

On how new technologies are changing television:
Television networks are streaming shows on their Web sites, which is very disruptive to the traditional model, he said. And then there's YouTube, which Heyward described as a fascinating phenomenon.
"Who would think that major media companies would have to consider their relationship with this completely democratic platform generated by the audience?" he asked. It's the ultimate iteration of power by the consumer, he said.

On personal news channels:
These days, Heyward said, people have seemingly infinite content available to them on the Web. They can create their own news environment, culling together news and video clips that they want to see. The role of editor has been usurped by the consumer, he said.
He called the practice "disaggregation," where news stories are now consumed as segments.
"Think about the Internet and the mouse compared to cable and the remote control," he said. "You're not at anybody's mercy anymore."

On changing economic models:
Heyward said his daughter uses the Craigslist classified site to find real estate and job leads. It's an appropriate example of how younger Web users are ignoring the traditional classified advertisement that has kept newspaper companies afloat for decades, he said.
"I'm not sure she's ever looked at a classified ad in the paper," he said. "I'm sure she hasn't."

What he misses about CBS News:
Heyward liked the camaraderie and the culture of friends and colleagues. But other than that, he said he's enjoying his new life as consultant. He said he can now look at the traditional and digital media industries with more perspective. It's hard to keep an eye on the map when both hands are gripping the steering wheel, he said.
"It's nice to be able to take a step back," he said. "You can see the broader picture."

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