Saturday, June 23

Casting Shadows Of Doubt: Jericho Season 3

As much credit as I have given to deserving Jericho fans for convincing CBS to reinstate their program, I'm equally inclined to write how they could unintentionally be responsible for destroying any chance for a season three. Right now it seems, the only shadows being cast by their cause are shadows of doubt.

You only have to look at history to find some similarities between the town and its historic namesake to appreciate that if the walls of Jericho are going to fall, it's likely to be from the inside out. Sure, it hasn't happened yet, but the writing is all over the CBS boards. Without a common enemy any longer, fans now fight from within.

It's disappointing, but not surprising. Throughout history, and even today in faraway places like Iraq, humankind has an uncanny ability to put differences aside in order to rise up for a common cause. But then, they are equally inclined, after winning the day, to quickly descend back into tribal rivalries, jealousy, and petty bickering.

Ergo, I like Jericho fans (you've all been good to me), but after reading an "Open Letter to Jericho Fans or CBS and other boards," I think it's time someone reminded them where the focus should be.

If the fans continue to single out people who helped move the protest forward, guess at their motivations, and levy charges against them that smack of character assassination, then all your efforts will be for naught. As I cautioned back on June 10, only focus will ensure continued success and see this show capture a third season.

Worse, what new fans will want to participate on boards ripe with infighting as opposed to the finer points of programming that appear front and center on the CBS message boards? This is precisely why I suggested you move such discussions off those boards.

Alas, the egos (not the eagles) have landed in the fan base and my second case study on Jericho is coming dangerously close to crashing down as fans pit themselves against one another. Why is it happening? History repeats. A lack of organization, not all that dissimilar to several Jericho episodes, demonstrates how internal politics is always the greatest threat for any loosely formed government, organization, company, and, well, fan base.

Never mind the details of the arguments as they are always the same, regardless of the group. Never mind them because none of them does anything to further where the focus should be: in establishing a fan club, promoting the reruns, and creating a friendly environment for new fans who are interested to see if season two is warranted.

No, some would rather argue the finer points of things like whose name might appear on the Guinness application or how much effort needs to be devoted to taking down Nielsen. Ha! Since the fans are not privy to everything we know, please allow me to spell it out.

You don't have to change Nielsen because Nielsen already knows it needs to change. In fact, just yesterday, it already did. The Nielsen Company (formerly VNU) and NetRatings, Inc. completed the previously announced merger of NetRatings with a wholly owned subsidiary of The Nielsen Company.

They know they need to change because advertisers are not as enamored by them as some people have suggested. Just yesterday, one of my clients (whom I won't name), a mid-sized agency in my market, declared they were tossing out all their Nielsen and Arbitron books because the rating system is broken after being sliced too thin in an effort to retrieve more ethically diverse demographics.

"We don't need to look at ratings to pinpoint where our clients' consumers are coming from because we already know what they watch and listen to based on our own independent research," said the agency principal. "So, the only time we need to know the numbers, which are provided by local stations on demand anyway, is a matter of price point negotiations and nothing more."

But never mind, go ahead and beat the dead horse anyway. That makes much more sense than organizing show promotions and being the front line of communication in a viral consumer-based marketing effort that welcomes new fans with enthusiasm. That makes much more sense than flushing out the expanded Jericho Universe since CBS is too slow to do it for you. That makes much more sense than allowing Jericho Monster to host the Nielsen debate because she does a better job at it than the fan boards.

Ho hum. I would have much rather written about solutions today than a potential fan base meltdown, but I'm not the one who distracts the focal point of the story as much as fans do. Some fans seem to have made this the most visible priority, not me. And frankly, if there is any lesson to be learned here, unless Jericho fans reverse course today, than let it be for fans of The Black Donnellys. Whatever TBD fans do, don't do this.

With luck, maybe next week will bring happier news for Jericho fans as the countdown to bringing the show back continues. Today, however, it seems to me that the Jericho fans are on the wrong side of the mountains in the picture that accompanies this post.

Digg!

29 comments:

Jericho Saved on 6/23/07, 1:46 PM said...

Rich,
What can I say? You have outdone yourself. Thanks for this doozy of an article & you speak the truth so well.
I hate cliches but I can think of a good one: If you can't say something nice then don't say anything. Yes, I'm all for free speech but I would ask board members to stop & ask yourself how this bickering is helping Jericho? What message does it send to newcomers on the board?
This is a disturbing, disappointing turn of events. Personally, I don't care whose name is on what. Maybe I wish I'd written this article because it's so good. Should I come back & attack you when you win an award for it? Should I pretend to be psychic so I can say, " Rich wrote that so he could get his name in the paper"? If I want my name in the paper I should have written it myself.
So, Jericho fans, if you want to blame people for stepping up when you couldn't or didn't then take the fight off the board. Do you want Season 3 or do you want to be known as the campaign that changed TV then imploded?
Before you post ask yourself if it will help or hurt this campaign then go read some blogs or watch videos & remember Why We Fight! You might change your mind about posting negative comments.

rubberpoultry on 6/23/07, 1:46 PM said...

Well said Rich. I hate to see this happen. We had so much momentum, and the infighting is begining to tear us apart.

I sure hope next week brings better things. Here's my message to fans today:

http://tinyurl.com/2ynapd

Thanks for another great article.

RubberPoutlry

SC_Watcher on 6/23/07, 2:21 PM said...

As usual your comments are exactly what we need to hear. Unfortunately, I think you are probably "preaching to the choir."

Rich on 6/23/07, 2:21 PM said...

Thanks JS and Rubberpoultry,

I'm glad you get it and appreciate not everyone will. Perhaps another example is in order for those who wonder about the difference between open discussion and turning people off with discourse.

A few years ago (before I was wise enough to know better), a designer and I were working on a joint project and came upon a disagreement in the design of a employee publication. While the discussion was healthy and lead to better solutions, the airing of grievances to the client was not very welcomed. Sure, we might have reach agreement in the end, but so did the client who deduced we did not get along and so ended our attempt to work without a lead.

Yes, I have since engaged in projects without a designated lead, but the lesson I learned was a good one. Never air your differences in public else you risk undermining what the consumer or client might think. I'm a big fan of transparency, but not such a big fan that I could convince myself that an investor would invest in a company where the executives are airing their minor differences in the court of public opinion. No, I might be more inclined to pass on that one.

Sure, some have already mentioned that maybe the infighting is not taking a toll on the group. Maybe it is; maybe it is not. But certainly, without argument, I can assure you it is taking a toll on new viewers who do not know the difference between your discussions or fatal disagreements.

All they see is something to be avoided. If you want to attract new viewers, you have to think about them first and yourself second. That is part of the art of communication and to some degree why I highlighted people, passion, and principles just yesterday. You cannot win without all three.

I love your passion, but it is not enough to win the day. You have to put people and principles in the mix too.

All my best, Rich

P.S. RubberPoutlry ... it's a very fun image that works. :)

Rich on 6/23/07, 2:22 PM said...

Hey SC,

Right on. I probably am. ;)

Rich

BoonDoggie on 6/23/07, 2:45 PM said...

Hi Rich -

That's disappointing news indeed. I haven't had a chance to surf the Jericho web in the last few weeks, so I haven't written anything. I thought I'd give them some time to shake out and then offer a few things.

I'm sad to say that the beginnings of a meltdown could be seen almost immediately after they won. There seemed to be too many competing agendas to guide the movement.

I've also been waiting to see when I would notice a mention of Jericho outside the insider channels -- if I was a new fan, how would I find out? Again, sadly, I have yet to notice anything.

I really hope we're both wrong and this isn't a meltdown in progress.

Skeeterbit on 6/23/07, 2:46 PM said...

There are thousands of people involved in this campaign. We are passionate about this show, we are passionate about making a lasting impact on the ratings sytem, and we are creative and want our ideas to be taken seriously or at least heard. However, the board has gotten so big ideas just tend to get lost. This had to results in pent-up emotions eventually. However, we are still "a family" united in a cause that is dear to our hearts. And like any family we will eventually work it out.

Keep things in perspective Rangers, but keep your eye on the prize. Also, don't let the cast and crew of JERICHO who is so proud of how we came together in a record about of time to impact the decision of a major television network derail us from what we have set out to do.

Rich on 6/23/07, 3:06 PM said...

Good to see you Doggie! I might offer up that being on the path of destruction is not the same as being destructed. I have faith they will change course. My post is not an attempt to discourage as much it is to discourage going down a dark path like so many groups do.

Skeeterbit. Excellent addition. There have been a great many ideas forwarded by hundreds of fans. But we would all do well to remember that for want of a horse (an idea to be taken seriously), entire kingdoms can be lost. I have great faith that the fans, especially lead by great Rangers, will regain focus. It was my hope to simply hasten the pace because in mass communication perception is reality.

New fans or potential viewers only know what they read without the benefit of history. It's something to keep in mind when people post on the CBS boards. Every communication could help you gain or lose a new viewer.

Start with a simple concept, like each poster asking themselves if an outsider were viewing this post as their first contact ... would they be likely to participate or not? Hmmm ... kind of makes you read a few CBS message board posts a bit differently I imagine.

Rich

flowerlady112 on 6/23/07, 3:16 PM said...

Your are exactly right. I am so tired of the negativity on the board but I am not giving up. I ignore the negative posts and I wish everyone else would too. If no one commented on them they would go away. I am still fighting for Jericho and I am grateful for the people who have stepped up to lead us. I don't care who gets credit for what as long as we keep Jericho!!!!!

bluesapphire7788 on 6/23/07, 4:01 PM said...

Hey Rich! I think your article yet again arrives just in time! And, as always someone from the outside looking in helps to give us better focus and reminds us of the most important task at hand! Promoting Jericho so we get a Season 3.

It's the all important goal! We have 14 days left until July 6...and every day thereafter until we get the GOOD NEWS!

Thanks again for being our mirror!

erika on 6/23/07, 5:27 PM said...

Oh thank you for commenting on the meltdown. I have avoided the CBS boards for the most part in the past week because of the in-fighting, but I have been watching it from other boards. I know there are lots of people who take your opinion into consideration, and hopefully this will help turn a few heads back to the key part of our fight, keeping Jericho on the air.

kystorms on 6/23/07, 5:51 PM said...

Dont worry Rich, give us a few days, 3 tops.... that fire and respect for each other that we had will return, along with a common idea to save a show called Jericho!
:-)

SC_Watcher on 6/23/07, 7:57 PM said...

Rich, as I am ever the optimist, it appears that people are taking your words to heart along with a couple of other posts. We are now trying to get to know each other over a few virtual cocktails on the board. Join us.

Rich on 6/23/07, 8:52 PM said...

Thanks everyone! I do have a lot of faith in the fans, especially some of those who posted here (because I know many of them).

I'm glad it seems like it turned around already for the better; save those virtual drinks for me another time. I need to spend some time with my family at the moment.

Oh, please let LisiBee know I never post when I'm angry (and almost never get angry for that matter ... certainly never on a blog, well, maybe once), but sometimes I am known for sarcasm. She a good person to make note of that. ;)

All my best,
Rich

Rahul on 6/23/07, 9:20 PM said...

Yeah rich, I think that they'll get past this. This has already happened a few times before. I have faith in them getting back together again, once people like me who were busy start hearing about this, and try to help out.

alpha99wolf on 6/23/07, 11:49 PM said...

Rich: Your article exhibits some truth, however, the few unbecoming discussions do not reflect the whole story or fan base. There are CBS board threads that have diligently focused on enticing viewers to join our Jericho Family. They are upbeat, enthusiastic & positive CBS threads that warmly welcome newcomers & viewers. In the "Save Jericho" folder, the "New Viewers & Posters Welcome Center," or the "Passion of Silent Ones," and "New Ranger Orientation" have positive discussions promoting Jericho. Individuals involved in that effort focus on the integral purpose of the campaign: Jericho & having interesting, humorous and fun conversations. We warmly embrace anyone and have endeavored to focus on that goal. Opinions are presented with dignity and respect on those sites. Attracting new viewers & posters is our main focus. It is our sincere quest to reach viewers & assist them with questions, concerns, and practicing their new posting skills. We all represent what we stand for - Jericho. That is the message we want newcomers to see.

Rich on 6/24/07, 12:25 AM said...

Alpha, Rahul, et all,

With you all, I have no doubt that is the message new viewers will receive. Take care that is all they see...

Angels have wings because they take themselves lightly.

All my best,
Rich

ahma2 on 6/24/07, 6:46 AM said...

Rich,
I can already see what a difference your article has made on the Jericho message board. One, because it makes excellant sense, two, because we all respect your opinion. Thank you so much for helping save us from ourselves! Up untill Jericho was cancelled I had never posted on a board, but once I found it and saw what a well mannered friendly group they were, I couldn't wait to join in. Then when I was immediatley welcomed aboard I knew I had found my home to fight for Jericho. It seems to me we are starting to get back to being that unified group that fought so hard together and achieved such an almost impossible goal.

Gisele on 6/24/07, 9:18 AM said...

I can only hope this in fighting is going to stop soon. I think in order to get a season 3 we have to present a united front, not unlike the cast of Jericho in the finale. It's very sad to see all the efforts put into saving the show now being channeled into destroying it. And yes Jericho will be destroyed if we can't all get along.

I don't care whose name is on what nor do I care who gets credit for any idea, all I care about it watching Jericho.

Keeping my eye on the prize.

Donna on 6/24/07, 10:11 AM said...

Bluesapphire made my point already: Sometimes it takes an outside voice for people to realize what they are doing. I'll keep checking in for marching orders, but reading (let alone commenting on) the CBS boards has become frustrating. Thanks for keeping the story out there.

Balceroregontr on 6/24/07, 11:23 AM said...

Rich, I think your comments are right on. What I try to do before I comment is to make sure I am talking about an idea not a person. I think if everyone talked about ideas and not people then new people would feel comfortable. I hope that we focus on getting new viewers on board so the show can continue. CBS is doing their part by advertising we need to do our part too.
Debby from SC

SaveJake on 6/24/07, 1:34 PM said...

Freedom of speech is great but you can't yell fire in a theater that isn't burning. My question for you Rich is, will I ever get that perfect position in my seat again? So comfortable I only think about the task at hand? Will I no longer smell burning rubbish, looking left, then right, to check for sparks?
I am trying to lighten up the atmosphere and get back on task. Steer the new viewers being directed to us by CBS away from questionable threads...but even 24 hours this article, they keep popping up.

I would also like to know what outside channels Boondoggie was talking about. He did a great video tag for us, but thankfully hasn't written on our campaign lately. If one of you could be clearer about what he's looking for, it would give us a direction to work on.

Rich on 6/24/07, 6:33 PM said...

With all sincerity, I'm glad it made a difference. I know not everyone appreciated it, but give it few days (based on a few hours), assuming the tone stays a positive course, I'm sure you'll see a difference in newcomers and perhaps a few old friends on the boards.

SaveJake,

There is little doubt you have been an asset to the fans on the message boards and elsewhere. You ask good questions here, so I'll do my best with them. Whether it works for you is, well, up to you.

First and foremost, with only the very best intention, only you can answer most of those questions.

What I can say, however, is that it has taken me years and years of working with eclectic groups of volunteers to sense when to lead, follow, or get out of the way* (and it never really pays to critique from within). And no, I don't always get it right. We're all human, eh? :) *Patton

Group trouble makers, trolls, ghosts, and simply well-meaning but misguided people will always pop up. Ultimately though, they only have as much credibility as you or I or someone else or the group gives them. Funny how the Internet, with all its benefits, would ask us to tolerate behavior that we would not tolerate in person. (Though lately, I've noticed some groups are willing to give in to individuals with bad behavior in person too.)

I wish I could be as pithy and say ignore them as Seth Godin does, but I don't believe it's always that simple. The best ways to handle social media challenges (and minimize any damage) it not all that dissimilar to crisis communication or a hostile interview. We must always keep in mind that we cannot control what other people say, only how we choose to react to it. If you remember that, then the smoke will likely not smell as thick as it did.

As for what Boondoggie suggested, you might go ahead and ask him. If I were to guess, it seems to me what he is pointing out is that most Jericho marketing (by fans and CBS alike) is more targeted to the fan base than new viewers, which is what you need.

I do think he's hoping for the same thing I am. Something truly definitive beyond multiple forums that makes us say ... Wow! Those folks deserve media attention. We can't say, per se, what it is, but we will certainly be able to tell you when we see it. I think if you had it, he most certainly would have written a follow up on the fans.

Direction... hmmm... it is extremely difficult at times to know how far to go with this group without slipping away from the position of an observer and into the role of something else.

If it were up to me, and thank goodness it is not, I would suggest forging ahead to develop a lead fan group to represents these various factions. And then, as soon as that is together, I would develop some messages that appeal less to the fans and more to new viewers that could make or break your chances to see season three come to fruition.

At the same time, I would be foolish to not point out that this is a challenging task. Organization on any level, for this group, seems to be treated like a red herring. Collectively it seems to take great pride in its individual independence with boatloads of ideas brimming forward and no clear objective, which was so easy to define when the show was cancelled.

So I suppose that is the question. Today, the monster is friendlier, but to some degree, it's still a monster. When does the monster decide it wants to be a civilized? I suppose, only the monster can answer that. Maybe never.

mk on 6/25/07, 11:43 AM said...

Rich,

I can't help but think that one of our best "weapons" (for lack of a better word) in bringing additional media attention / new viewers AND giving the group something cohesive to band together on (sometimes groups need an "enemy" or single point of focus) is the Greensburg, KS issue; however, I worry that it is not receiving the attention it needs. I would love to get your opinion on this, because my thought has always been that it's doing good for others, it's a place to focus our attention and gain new respect, it's a way to bring new light to the fight and...in doing so...recruit new viewers to see what all of the fun/fuss is about, and it's a way to EXTEND the interest in "Jericho" far beyond the Web.

Am I crazy? This thing seems to be seriously lagging, for want of leadership.

Rich on 6/25/07, 10:29 PM said...

MK,

I think you are right that there is a need for leadership, but I don't blame the most obvious choices for not stepping into spotlight to do it officially and risk coming away with a negative.

I like the Greensburg, KS cause and think it is a fine purpose for the effort to galvanize too as it provides an opportunity to groom future leaders. But without leadership and teamwork being the objectives, it seems to me that Greensburg will have to rely on the efforts of the few.

Btw, we are donating Jericho shirt proceeds to Greensburg much like the NutsOnline; and we have plugged several companies (non-related t Jericho) on our sister blog. There are several other smaller Jericho fan efforts to raise money.

mk on 6/26/07, 4:16 AM said...

Rich,

Good for you! Every dollar will help! :)

Carbone said...

I love Jericho.... funny I like TBD too.
After reading your article... I decided that TV doesn't really know me.

Thanks for a good read

Milesius on 3/25/08, 8:37 PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Milesius on 3/25/08, 8:40 PM said...

I think it is very unfair they pull shows that have heavy competition like American Idol which is mostly viewed by a certain group of people. Already many different networks canceled a few shows I loved to watch. They should have kept Journeyman and the Black Donnely's, and now CBS is pissing me off. I am going to be very bored and I'll just FOX and CNN news all night, or read a good book.

The entertainment this season is watching all three presidential hopefulls make asses of themselves and watch this country falter to scandals like Spitzer and the new NY Governor. Gee why don't the networks cancel all of them and not report it to us? We have seen it before, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swagart, etc. I rather watch Non-Fiction Dramas like Jericho and other shows then the mainstream media which is a joke and very boring and totally turns me off. Give these shows a chance! Lets get don't tread on me flags and send them to CBS!!!!!!

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