Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Media Directory Dinosaurs Can See The Meteorites

One day a museum will have an exhibit called “The Book” and it will feature printed books the way museums display rotary phones, typewriters, paper calendars, music albums, and digital wrist watches. Hopefully that’s a long way off but it’s quite inconceivable it can happen in my lifetime. I am only 44.

I found a book in my office recently that made me realize some books may never get printed again.  A directory of the news media would be one such book.

Publicists rely on databases and directories to contact the news media.  But because the media has expanded wildly online and traditional media has undergone radical changes in size, personnel and coverage, an annual book the size of a phonebook doesn’t cut it any longer.

I’m thumbing through a relic as I turn the page of a 2,160-page media directory.  Bacon’s Internet Media Directory:  2003 was cutting-edge at the time it was published. Publicists were really scrambling to understand and find online media contacts.  Blogs were growing but didn’t have the influence they have today.  Chat rooms, viral emails, bulletin boards, and the dot-coms of major established media, such as were the leading online sources back then.

Today there are many ways to promote online – blogging and guest blogging, article-sharing, video-sharing, Twitter, Facebook/Linked In, Google+, the web sites of major traditional media, podcasting, webinars, free e-books, etc.  Truth is no single directory can capture it all but certainly a printed one is doomed.  Online media directories make sense if one wants relatively updated, accurate contact information. However, what is missing is one’s ability to skim a physical directory and stumble upon things. 

Many publicists are not able to see the big picture when they narrowly search for just a sliver of the pie.  That is one of my biggest concerns with e-books and online information.  The electronic information is easy to find and tag  once you know what to search for, but if you want to discover information that you may not normally seek out, you are unlikely to find it online.

Then again, do I need a 400-page index, as this old directory had?

Goodbye to the printed directories of the world, especially those that are finding their listings are expanding and changing constantly.  If there was one thing the digitization of information can be praised for  is its ability to gather and organize huge amounts of names, data and information and then to find a fast and direct way to usefully funnel it to readers and users.

Perhaps I should donate my directory to a museum.  I find it hard to part with but I know that it’s time to make the best use of this three-pound tree extraction:  the recycling bin. 

May the paper be used to print a new book.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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