FLYP Transcript

Hi. I’m Jim Gaines. I’m the Editor of flypmedia.com.

FLYP Media is a proof-of-concept experiment in digital storytelling. What we’re trying to do is show how all the media that the Web can accommodate can be used at the same time in the service of one story. It’s about using video and audio and information graphics and flash animation — it is a flash product — in service to a storytelling experience that’s much like a magazine storytelling experience but uses a lot more than paper, ink, and still photography. We are attempting to share a story in a way that’s deeply meaningful.

The role of design at FLYP is critical. We have about 10 people working there, and two-thirds of them are designers.

It’s not design in the sense of pretty; it’s design in the sense of functionality. What we’re about is trying to discover, define, and enact the optimal experience of a story.

It’s hard to imagine a story of which video can’t be an important component.

It’s critical to have video in a human interest story because you have to get to know the people, and video is the most efficient medium for getting to know somebody.

And art stories clearly are great for video. I’ve often wondered why arts magazines haven’t already migrated to multimedia. I mean how do you do video art in a magazine? How do you do anything that moves? How do you performance art?

Images are terribly important in terms of, for one thing, anchoring a story, in terms of allowing a reader the time to wander around an image. Video doesn’t allow you that. Video just runs away.

The problem with text is a really interesting one. Just because the space is free doesn’t mean that you can expand infinitely the amount of words that you put there because people won’t read them.

In a multimedia context, print is great for setting forth themes, for inserting fact. Display type can serve that purpose as well as running type. And the deeper layers convey as much information as you care to purvey, but the main text that runs along a story with the audio and video and information graphics tends to be very short, and the compression is extreme, and I’ve likened it more to humming the tune than singing the song. I mean it is really — it is almost a navigational device at the top layer.

The process of choosing stories at FLYP is a little bit ineffable, but we sort of know the story when we see it. It’s a combination of topicality, traction, the effective quality, the quality that makes it sticky, the quality that makes you stop and think.

We have to think about the fact that we want to use all these media. We don’t want a story that only works in information graphics or only works in print.

We have to be focused on what our principal job is, and I think our principal job is expository and narrative rather than critical and that the blog is a great place for criticism.

There’s a lot of talk about the place of the critic in the world of crowd sourcing and citizen journalism. I don’t think that the role of the critic is going away. I do think that it’s more well defined than it was before because there are so many more voices, but I think that very fact of there being so many more voices creates an opportunity for authority.

My view is that our job is to expose an intelligent audience to the arts in ways that they haven’t been able to experience the arts before because the media haven’t been there to support that and that our job is less critical. We aren’t actually doing it for any particular person, no demographic, no psychographic; we’re doing it to explore this great new world of digital media.

Well, right now, FLYP is an experiment, and it’s being completely funded by private investment. We are just now beginning to monetize, and that monetization is taking several forms.

One is content partnerships. We’re doing work with Scientific American, with Time, Inc., particularly Fortune, where we’re carrying rich media advertising for IBM, and I think that there are lots of spaces where business models on the Web are working wonderfully well.

I think that multimedia, taking our own space, is going to be reliant on rich media advertising, and by that, I don’t mean banners that blink; I mean fully rich media storytelling advertising experiences. There are lots of wonderful examples out there right now, but they have no place to live.

My partner, [Alan Stoga], used a good metaphor, I think. “To put rich media — really good rich media advertising into an HTML site is sort of like wearing your best suit on the beach. It just doesn’t feel right.”

And you’re not in an engagement forum. What we’re selling, what we are attempting to create is engagement, and that’s the experience that suits rich media advertising because it’s storytelling.

I believe in the dual-revenue stream model for journalism. I believe that we can create audiences that will pay to be where advertisers want to get them. I wish that the print world would discover the possibility of not being — becoming infamous for closing the next publication but becoming famous for digitally transforming the one they have.

I think publishers have to realize that when they have a healthy consumer brand, they really must explore the digital possibilities before they give up a brand. A brand is terrible thing to waste.

FLYP is a model for new arts journalism because it uses all the media that the Internet can carry. Everywhere, the cost of print ink and distribution is a burden, and the job can be done better in all media at once. There is the opportunity for FLYP. It’s really about sharing the experience, and I think that’s the ultimate purpose of journalism. I know there’s some debate about that, but I really feel that’s what journalism is about. It’s about the sharing of life with other people, and I think this medium is beautifully suited to do that.

San Francisco Classical Voice — Regional Classical Music Website

Hi. My name is Patty Gessner. I’m the Executive Producer of San Francisco Classical Voice.

San Francisco Classical Voice is a website devoted to covering the rich cultural scene that is the Bay Area classical music scene. We literally have hundreds of organizations in San Francisco that present classical music.

We really see ourselves as the hub of the classical music community to give the community a voice and a center so that all sides can be represented and so that the audience can find everything all in one place.

The site started in 1998. It was founded by a former music critic from the San Francisco Chronicle, a man by the name of Robert Commanday. He saw an opportunity to create a new medium using the Web as a way to communicate his message and really give a voice to all the wonderful organizations in the Bay Area that were no longer having a voice.

When the site first started, we were primarily handling concert reviews of concerts that otherwise wouldn’t be covered, and over time, the site evolved.

We went out and we talked to people who were classical music consumers in the Bay Area, and what they told us is that music reviews for many organizations were not terribly helpful because by the time they read the review, the concert had already passed, and there was nothing that would — it didn’t engage them, whereas if they could read about interesting artists and interesting ensembles performing in the Bay Area ahead of time, that could actually stimulate a trip to the concert hall, and that was something they were very interested in. So we shifted our focus to be not just about reviews but really about engaging audiences in classical music.

When you arrive on Classical Voice, the first thing you see is a calendar which lists everything that’s going on in the Bay Area around classical music. It’s a calendar that you can filter according to your own personal preferences. If you want to find a concert for kids, that you can bring your kids to in the East Bay or the North Bay, you can find it right in your neighborhood. Not only can you find out which of your favorite artists is coming to the area but also what the program is, you can listen to a sound clip, you can click right through and buy a ticket to any one of a number of box offices. We make it very convenient for you to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Social networking can be a very useful tool, and the question is in what way does the community want to participate, and we make it very easy on our website. If you find a concert you want to go to, you can save it to your Facebook page or any one of your social networking pages. So we’ve integrated social networking in what we do so that people who are fans of social networking can participate, but we haven’t created a social networking site per se.

We try to give people insight into what’s unique and special and what they should be aware of. We also have a number of original articles that we put out every week where we cover both concerts that are happening in the future and also classical music reviews.

We see it as our job to cover not just from a critical standpoint what’s happening on the concert stage but also just general news about the Bay Area community, the artists who are performing here, what’s happening.

We do break a lot of stories before they’re in papers. We get the scoop, and we — because we’re a website, we can post it pretty quickly, and we make it our business to know what’s going on in our city.

San Francisco Classical Voice has a pretty large stable of freelance writers that work for us on a per-article basis. They’ve been cultivated over the years. I think our freelancers are tremendously dedicated in that they are covering a specific expertise that means a lot to them.

We pay our writers for every article that’s submitted, and this is somewhat different. There are many websites who either don’t pay anything or they pay on a page-per-view basis. We are committed to paying our writers. We think it’s important. We think it’s the right thing to do, and it’s something that we’re going to continue to do.

We’re 11 years old. We have been a nonprofit since the beginning. Our budget is approximately $350,000. It goes up and down according to the year. We have many sources of revenue. Not only do we get gifts from the community; we have major donors. We also have people online that think what we’re doing is great and send us small gifts. We also have a membership opportunity for the arts groups in the Bay Area. If they see value in what they’re doing, we’ve asked them to support our business model. They are coming forward in droves in with their support because they know that there will be no one else to help tell their story if Classical Voice goes away.

The board’s set a goal to have our membership represent about 25% of our overall budget, and that’s where we’re aiming. We don’t think we’re going to get there in year one, but we’ve very quickly moved up from about 2% of our budget from earned income. We’re now up to somewhat north of 10%. So I think it’s entirely plausible that within three years, we will have an earned income stream that will be a viable source of support for the website.

I think journalism has always been about telling a great story, and that hasn’t changed. I think that we now have more tools than ever before to tell a great story.

San Francisco Classical Voice is a new model for arts journalism. Because we’re a completely virtual organization, we’re able to attract very talented people who have expertise in a certain area, and we have been able to staff our organization with freelance people who really have a passion for what we do and are happy to be a part of it, and I think right now, we very much see it as an open book experiment, how do we bring people together, because we very much view it as a multiple conversation, not just a one-way conversation.

I think offering a variety of perspectives and a variety of voices is really what Classical Voice strives to do.

post a comment
Please note that the NAJP editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.