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  • feedwordpress 14:08:39 on 2021/10/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    The Recount Turns Two  


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    Two years ago The Recount moved out of beta with our first daily product. A short summary of national news, The Daily Recount was designed to cut through the bullshit endemic to mainstream media. As we grew, The Recount cultivated an incisive voice that never wastes time, rejects tired tropes, and focuses on the core values of journalism: Identifying the truth, holding powerful interests to account, and reflecting the world as it is today, not the way it used to be. 

    Twelve months later, that voice had found a huge audience on Twitter – which in 2020 was pretty much the white-hot center of the political narrative we were covering. In my post summarizing that first year, I laid out what we’d learned, and how the audience who had gathered around our work was responding. And I indulged in a bit of boasting: “Since launch one year ago,” I crowed, “our work has been viewed more than half a billion times.”

    We’ve shot well past the billion mark since then, with more than 3 billion audience impressions along the way. The past year has been full of milestones, lessons learned, and big plans for the future. Here are a few of them:

    • First and foremost: THANK YOU TEAM RECOUNT! We made it through the worst of a pandemic that shut down production, sparked confusion and contraction in media markets, and forced our entire team into their homes for the past 20 months. I can’t say enough about how extraordinary the folks at The Recount are – and how happy we were to re-open our new offices earlier this month. 
    • Even as Delta raged, we raised our Series B this past summer. This gave us the capital we needed to grow our edit staff, our coverage areas, and our distribution. 
    • Since then, we’ve doubled the size of our team, including nearly 50 full time editors and producers focused on our unique brand of visual journalism. And we brought on Ryan Kadro as our Chief Content Officer. Among many other things, Ryan will oversee our editorial strategy and lead the expansion of our streaming product. 
    • The Recount Wire, an expression of our editorial voice which I described last year as the “human algorithm” underpinning all of our work, has expanded its coverage of “moments that matter” to the people and narratives driving business, technology, and culture. 
    • We produced countless stellar features on everything from CEO pay to Basic Income, Bitcoin to the US Senate
    • Our signature style of “bringing the receipts” journalism tore up social platforms for yet another year, whether it was Dr. Fauci, Ron DeSantis, Trump, Zuckerberg, or the local police.   
    • You can view all our work on our newly redesigned site, which got a refresh for the first time since its launch two years ago.  
    • We added two extraordinary people to our Board of Directors: Maya Wiley, a respected legal expert and social justice advocate who recently ran for Mayor of New York, and Elisabeth Sami, a savvy veteran of the television and news industries’ shift to streaming who recently left NBC. 
    • We completely redesigned our daily newsletter, which has grown significantly and become my morning ritual for understanding the stories that matter across our four pillars of coverage. Sign up here
    • We launched our podcast unit straight into the teeth of the pandemic last year, and since then, have logged 7 million downloads. If you’re not listening to John Heilemann’s signature pod Hell & High Water, for example, you’re really missing out – it’s a gem. 
    • We kicked off new partnerships with amazing companies like P&G, Comcast, Yahoo!, Acast, Roku, YouTube and more. 

    It’s been a hell of a year – one that John Heilemann and I will recount in our annual “Recounting 2021” conversation this December –  but the next 12 months promise to be even more eventful. We’ll be debuting a new streaming service, launching new programming (like The Long Game featuring LZ Granderson and Will Leitch, coming next month), and adding even more talented journalists to our ranks. We’ll expand our presence on selected social platforms like Snap and TikTok. And we’ve got a few curveballs working as well – more on those as they land. And throughout the coming year, we’ll continue to keep close and knowing tabs on the worlds of politics, business, tech, and culture in order to help viewers beat back information overload – and keep the bullshit at bay. 

     
  • feedwordpress 19:56:45 on 2021/10/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , OTT, , , television   

    Why Is The Streaming Experience So Terrible? 


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    I wrote this for P&G’s Signal360 publication, but I thought I’d toss it up here as well. I know I’ve been very, very absent from writing for – well, for the entire pandemic. I plan to change that, but for now, here’s a mini-rant (I could have gone on forever) about the state of the television experience for us cord cutters out there. 


    I can’t believe I’m about to write these words, but…I kind of miss cable TV.

    Now before you pile on, I know. I’ve lost no sleep over cable’s slow demise. The consumer experience was…not great. We paid for 500 channels of dreck, but watched, on average, five of them (or something like that). Decades of regional monopoly gave cable television scant reason to innovate — resulting in legendarily bad customer service, instantly out of date hardware, and utterly inscrutable remote controls (admit it, you could never find the mute button, could you?!).

    Streaming was supposed to change all that. The great unbundling meant consumers could choose which channels they wanted, and we’d all save money. Just as it did with music, technological innovation promised to reinvent a stagnant industry. We’d get all the wonderfulness of great television combined with the ease of the open internet! I for one couldn’t wait for it all to materialize.

    Until it actually did. And it was…exponentially worse.

    If you’re like the majority of American consumers, you probably cut the cord in the past five years. If you’re under 30, you likely never had a cord. When I dumped cable, I was instantly giddy. My $200 bill disappeared, replaced by $25 for YouTubeTV (so I could get sports and news, naturally), and a handful of $5-$10 additions — Netflix, Showtime, HBO. It was infinitely better, and less than half the cost. Sure, I had to juggle a few services, and not all of them played well with my Google Chromecast (my preferred way of getting TV programming from my phone to the big screen TV), but it was worth the effort. I was a trailblazer!

    Four years’ worth of “tech innovation” later, my television experience is a nightmare melange of competing tech and media platforms, none of which play nice together, and all of which are incomplete. Oh, and the bill? It’s back at $200 again.

    How’d we get here?

    First off, YouTubeTV is now $65 a month. That’s some impressive price leverage! Add $5 for Apple, $18 for Netflix, $15 for HBO Max, $8 for Hulu, $11 for Showtime, $20 for MLBTV, and another $50 or so for a bunch of other channels — and, well, now I’m paying the same price for an inferior experience. Want to watch a show? First remember which service it’s on, then remember your password, then navigate an entirely non-standard user interface to find the show, then cross your fingers and hope the platform supports streaming to your device of choice. If it doesn’t, you might just end up watching the show on your phone. ON A PHONE!

    And don’t get me started on those “smart TVs.” LG, Sony, Samsung, Google, Vizio — the whole lot of them have infected what used to be a simple piece of glass with impossibly complicated bloatware that has one goal: Locking you into their ecosystem. It’s madness.

    But guess what’s even worse? Yep…the ads. Remember how streaming was supposed to make the commercials better? Tailored to your interests, unobtrusive, data-enriched? I edited a cover story for Wired about all of this — in 1994! 30 years later, our industry still hasn’t figured out how to manage reach and frequency in a connected world. And from my own experience deep in the bowels of the connected television industry, this problem won’t be fixed for a long, long time.

    So let’s review: Compared to cable, streaming television has 1. A far worse user interface 2. Little to no cost advantage and 3. A far worse advertising experience — for both consumer AND advertiser. In fact, the only thing that has gotten materially better — and this is absolutely true — is the television programming itself.

    So how might we fix this mess? Well, if I could wave a magic wand, I’d start by creating an open, neutral protocol to which all streaming services adhered. This protocol would allow any and all streaming services to bundle their content with their business model (subscriptions, advertising, distribution policies, and the like). Anyone could then take that protocol and build what I call a “meta service” around it. Entrepreneurs would compete to build aggregate services which solved the consumer experience problem — which by default would also solve the  marketers’ problems as well. Imagine: one place to find all your television, with one interface to rule them all. Kind of like cable used to be — but better.

    We have the technology, we have the design chops, and we certainly have the content. We just need to get out of our own way. Come on, television industry: Let’s fix this mess!

     
  • feedwordpress 12:46:08 on 2021/07/15 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    Goodbye Logic+Emotion, Hello Armano Design Group 


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    ADG

    This will be the last blog post I'll write on this Website. 

    Let me take a step back.

    In February of 2006, before TikTok, Snap, Facebook, and Twitter, there was a form of social media built on the open Web where like-minded people found others like them, (as well as audiences). They were called blogs. 

    I picked a weekend during this coldest of months in Chicago to dig into what it would take to learn more about this space. I was intrigued by the potential and had become a reader of blogs myself. I started writing about what I knew most about back then—my first blog post was about user experience design (we call it UX now). 

    Blogging opened up a whole new world to me as the Web started becoming more social. Before I knew it, I had built an audience, started getting invited to speak all over the world, and I had new career opportunities which stretched me in entirely new directions from advancing leadership abilities to learning communications and public relations to expanding my knowledge through practice in the broader category of marketing as well as business transformation. 

    The world has changed much since 2006, and a recent Pandemic has accelerated decades of change and transformation in less than two years. We're only just at the beginning. Like many others, my career was unceremoniously disrupted and faced with uncertainty; I started my own venture with the fortune of securing some early contracts while dealing with my own fairly substantial case of Covid. I am happy to report—that which doesn't kill you, does in fact make you stronger. Yes, I've learned firsthand about the over-hyped word "resilience."

    And as it turns out that when change is accelerated—experience in managing change comes in handy. I've found myself working with some amazing partners and hope to share more on that later when the time is right. 

    So, a new chapter begins. I'll still be writing and sharing insights, but not here. You can find me at the following places:

    Armano Design Group
    We’re a design-inspired strategic consultancy that untangles complexity with purpose and passion so projects can be executed with precision.
    We help organizations solve complex marketing, communications, and business problems—by design.

    David by Design Newsletter on Substack: Personal thoughts, observations, and insights 
    Subscribe Here

    @Armano on Twitter

    DavidArmano.ME

    Linked IN

    Forbes

    "I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."
    ~Stephen Hawking

     
  • feedwordpress 17:34:22 on 2021/06/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , mentorshio   

    The Mentor / Mentee Value Exchange 


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    Mentor_mentee

    Originally posted on David by Design

    For the past five years or so, I have been informally mentoring people. I’m happy to report that some of the earliest are ridiculously successful and I still keep in touch. I’m also a mentee to a few people I look up to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

    Understand Your Motivation Before You Become A Mentor or Mentee

    You’re entering an informal agreement and you should know what’s motivating you and clearly articulate that to the other person. In my case, I realized I had not been seeking out mentors so becoming one was an intentional act.

    Embrace That It’s A Two Way Learning Street

    Regardless if you decide to seek or provide mentorship, you are accepting the role of both teacher and student. As a mentee, you will be teaching your mentor on a daily basis. Understand this dynamic works both ways.

    Be A Mentor Means Being An Active Listener

    If you want to become a valuable mentor, you either are a serious active listener or want to get better at it. Don’t become a mentor if you don’t value listening. It’s the number one requirement.

    Being A Mentee Means Being You

    If you’re not comfortable being yourself, you may not be ready for mentorship. Being a mentee means bringing your true self to the informal arrangement. There’s no room for anything less.

    The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Transcends Professional Development

    Being professional is a core value of my being. I strive to act ethically. I’m also a follower of radical candor and encourage mentees to explore a degree of personal life as part of professional development.

    Trust Is The Literal Foundation Of Mentor/Mentee relationships

    In every engagement where I have been both mentee as well as mentor, I seek to build trust. It’s the bedrock of the Mentor/Mentee value exchange. And it also flows both ways.

    Don’t Become A Mentor or Mentee If You Can’t Make The Time

    Time is our most precious asset and it’s limited. We have demanding projects, family duties, self-care, etc. all competing for time. If you can’t prioritize being either, you aren’t ready for it.

    The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Is A Human Investment

    In the age of crypto and a red hot housing market — becoming a mentee or mentor is an investment in another human being. If you value the ROI that comes with human investment, you’ll benefit from being either.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:25:04 on 2021/06/06 Permalink
    Tags: career transition,   

    Six Thoughts On Career Transition 


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    101589666_1e7ba141cd_o

    This past week I “celebrated” a year of career transition. It seems like a strange thing to celebrate as I didn’t find career transition, it found me. But unless you’re one of those rare creatures in life where everything goes according to plan — a career transition is just like one of any other’s life curveballs like the end of a relationship, or an accident, or maybe getting some news from the doctor that impacts your health and lifestyle. During this time, I have kept busy with contract work and conversations — lots of them. Not just career-focused conversations, but relationship reinforcing ones. I realized that this is not a topic people discuss openly, even though so many people go through it in some shape or another. There’s something not right about that — it’s like not talking about any other significant life milestone or even death for that matter. The fact is, some version of career transition, reinvention, reframing, or transformation comes for all of us — or we come for it. Either way, it’s a learning experience.

    So, I took to Twitter to share a few things that I have learned during my career transition experience. Here are six things you’ll learn if you keep an open mind and heart:

    You’ll find out who’s really in your corner:
    And it will be surprising. Some of the surprises will be pleasantly unexpected and truly wonderful. Others will be a surprise that you didn’t see coming. The good news is, knowing who is truly in your corner is AWESOME.

    You’ll experience loss, gains, and personal growth:
    Life without the security of full-time employment (if this has been your career path) is transformational. Some days you wake up feeling like you lost something — other days, you take in the gifts. Either way, you grow.

    You’ll learn to lean:
    On others for support. That’s something I’ve traditionally been not great at and have taken pride in my self-sufficiency to an extent. But career transition underscores the importance of connections, relationships, and even being vulnerable.

    You’ll learn:
    A ton, if you’re really smart. I’ve been much more observant of how others are navigating careers and life and challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone. Since a career transition naturally removes comfort, it’s a no-brainer.

    You’ll adapt:
    A forced career transition + a global pandemic + a summer of social unrest + a year of “new normal” = adapt or die trying. Having had Covid induced pneumonia on top of it all tends to underscore the old adage “that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.

    You’ll get perspective:
    And that’s the most important thing. A career is a huge deal because we spend so much time doing it. But I have other identities… father, partner, brother, friend. Your perspective on life broadens and if you allow it, becomes enriched.

    I hesitated greatly when I hit the publish button on the first tweet of that thread. But then I thought about all of the people and leaders that I admire. They aren’t the ones with iron-clad armor who are always ready for professional battle and climb up the corporate ladder, stepping on others to climb higher — they are the ones who embody strength through relatability, who lean into their humanity and genuinely care about others. They aren’t afraid to share their experiences and help others along the way.

    And the thing about transition is that it’s temporary. Like that butterfly about to emerge from the chrysalis. It’s a period of incubation between here and there. We’d all be better off openly discussing the in-between moments as much as the milestones because there’s a lot we learn during the transition.

     
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