Virginia Heffernan (who I have decided to give another chance after last week’s “Let The Eat Tweets”) writes this week about online commentary in a post to The Medium titled “Comment is King.” She brings up the interesting point that printed media and online media can be received very differently.

The example she uses is Anne Applebaum, an American expat journalist and author who has written on a number of liberal topics and has been hailed as one of “the world’s most sophisticated thinkers.” However, the comments section on her Washington Post articles would imply otherwise. The comments are for the most part sexist, shallow, uninformed, biased and vague.

Why the disconnect? For one, newspaper critics are a small, well-educated minority of the population, while the general populace is a more conservative, less eloquent majority. Even if a critic flaunts a work as wonderful in a printed article, there may be thousands of people silently thinking the opposite; comments sections break this barrier.

Another example of traditional vs. new media: Paul Gillin in Secrets of Social Media Marketing tells the story of a journalist for the Huffington Post who tried to print the word “Sweatshop” on a custom-designed Nike sneaker. Nike refused, and his story became an internet sensation. Ultimately, he was invited onto a major daytime news show as an “expert” in sweatshop labor, though in actuality he was just a guy trying to make a point. The logic behind this, with traditional media thinking, is that wide-circulation equals legitimacy.

To relate all of this to Podcasting in Business, the traditional vs. online situation is true for podcasting as well. In TBPB, the author of Chapter 6 states that hosts or talent who are used to broadcast journalism or radio may not be suited to podcasting because the media are similar yet different. The voice, tone and feel of a podcast is more personal than a radio show or commercial, in part because people choose when to listen to them. People who tune in to podcasting do not want advertising or jingles: they want information and will resist any sale pitches. Podcasting returns a degree of control to the listeners hands, and they can just turn off whatever they don’t like. Also, standard metrics do not apply. Wide circulation may not be a measurement of your podcast’s success, as podcasts are so niche-oriented that it is unreasonable to expect this.

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