Befriending Media

By Beacon Staff

I have resisted the urge to join social networking Web sites like Facebook or MySpace. I imagine about half the people my age quietly believe I’m missing out on a titillating world full of gossip and adventure. They may be right. Or, my assumption that few people would want to befriend a news editor in cyberspace is spot on. This, at least, holds true for some news products. And what’s the point of social networking sites if you don’t have anyone with whom to socialize?

At minonline.com, Steve Smith writes about this hip online world that several media organizations are trying to invade – some more successfully than others. He writes:

“Like high school geeks trying to sit at the lunch table with the cool kids, traditional media companies keep trying to nudge their way into this growing market of social networks. Every once in a while I perform random searches of media brands in MySpace and Facebook to find lists of magazine profile pages that just sit there, inactive and apparently waiting for someone in the lunchroom to talk to them.”

Facebook, since it began allowing non-students to join its massive sewing circle, is the “it” online company right now. Investors have valued the company at $15 billion, which, according to The New York Times, is about half the value of Yahoo – this for a company that simply allows strangers and friends to interact. It’s trendy. And media organizations, like Cosmopolitan, have joined, eager to make new, trendy and most importantly, young friends.

According to Smith, Cosmo has more than 32,000 friends in MySpace, which would make the magazine more popular than most people. The problem, he writes, is this:

“If I am to believe the member photos in the friends area, then Cosmo has a lot of gorgeous friends who look suspiciously like, well, magazine models.”

So the magazine joined a social networking Web site and befriended a bunch of people who work for it. As the article points out, a few media organizations, such as CondeNet, have created online environments that make cool kids feel cooler and thus succeed. Unfortunately, I would guess that my experience would more resemble Cosmo’s.

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