My media habits: GetCraft’s David Mayo – ‘TV networks are best for breaking news’

In an interview with Mumbrella's Dean Carroll, GetCraft chief growth officer David Mayo shares his belief that only curiosity can save the day in a world of algorithms and automated suggestions

What are your must-read news sources you can’t live without on a daily basis, and why are those particular media titles so important to you?

“My days generally start with a check-in to Bloomberg and the BBC who bring me the facts, with Sky on TV in the background and Huffington Post and Buzzfeed for the gossip. For deeper reads, I like The Guardian long read, when I get time.”

In terms of news consumption – do you prefer, print, television, radio, websites, newsletters, social networks, blogs, apps or something else entirely?

“News comes to me throughout the day through all means possible. It’s hard to ignore. But in my mornings, I always keep the TV on in the background in case of breaking news – the news networks are best for that – radio for the commentary. And then I keep a close eye on Twitter as I dragnet trends and discussions and then AFP to see whether they get picked up for real.”

Do you prefer long-form or short-form content?

“It’s impossible to choose long or short. Every long piece starts with a headline (think Buzzfeed) and every short piece needs more explanation; so they sit side by side. The long form enables you to contextualise the mountains of nonsense that home-journalists pump out every day.”

Can you name your favourite journalist and set out what makes them great?“I particularly like Jonathan Pie. Mainly because he is always on the money, always entertaining and more than anything else, I like to think he is real.”

What piece of journalism has changed the game in recent times, in your view?

“I think The Guardian and New Yorker do a good job. Not because of their politics (although anything that supports progress works for me). But I think blogs like Mashable, Buzzfeed and Huffington Post hold themselves accountable by balancing the need for arresting headlines and content with factually accurate content and analysis. A good blog is always the one that starts the news as it ripples into main media such as Sky, BBC, CBS and so on.”

Are there any titles you have paid subscriptions to?

“The Economist, The Sunday Times in the UK.”

In terms of films and shows, is your preference for terrestrial television or streaming platforms like Netflix?

“I go to where the content is. Every network has followed Netflix in making top quality, viewable, relevant and brilliantly written content. At 9pm on any day of the week in the UK for example, there will be a quality political, costume, police or topical drama.

“They are trying to lock out Netflix and their whole new industry of content. And they are doing it very well indeed and they have reacted brilliantly to the Netflix challenge and new high bar.”

Are recommendation engines a good thing or do they cancel out the joy of serendipity in terms of discovering fresh content not aligned with your previous preferences?

“These engines are engineering you. They are homogenising viewing audiences. They are helpful in serving up ‘suggestions’ but they lead to narrow corridors, laziness and a lack of curiosity and creative interest.

“Still the best way for me to get a recommendation is by word of mouth. In the social media 2.0 world, people who are moved to write about great content are always going to be the best recommendation – so influence over curation for me.”

What was the best film you saw of late – and can you describe why it made an impression on you?

“There have been plenty of mainstream flicks recently which lend themselves well to the whole cinema experience. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Rocketman’ will be on many people’s lists.

“I have watched Stan and Ollie which was a ‘tears of a clown’ biopic on Laurel and Hardy designed to make everyone look behind the smiles. “I liked ‘The Beach Bum’ with Matthew McConaughey because it made me laugh and I identify on some level with (McConaughey’s character) Moondog. And ‘A Star is Born’ made me cry.”

And what shows do you consider to be event TV, those programmes you just have to watch and can’t contemplate missing?“Saturday Night Live is brilliant as it puts the Trump era into perspective and The Late Late Show with James Corden is just brilliantly written.”

In terms of devices, how do you access content most often – on mobile, desktop, tablet, laptop or television?

“All other than a tablet because I don’t own one.”

How damaging is piracy and illegal downloads when it comes to the media and entertainment space?

“It’s very damaging. And it is hard to stop. It costs the entertainment industry billions every year. But they are making moves to counter it by offering lower barriers, earlier material. The new industry in ‘news on set’ media is fuelling a real-time opportunity to prevent piracy in its current ‘record and distribute’ way.”

And moving on, what’s been your favourite book in recent times?

“I have read a lot of history books over the past two years – 19 to be exact. All around the history of Central and South / South East Asia over the past 250-300 years which gives huge context to the way we are today.

“The ancient Chinese civilisations, the upstart Russian game of politics and protectionism and the nouveau riche American style of command and control all have a place in the history of a post-colonial world.

“But my favourite book of late was Billion Dollar Whale – a total must read on every level. Incompetence, complacency and then how the whale swam through the cracks. It made for a heavenly cocktail of indulgence, debauchery, trickery and reckless extravagance.”

So Kindle or hard copy?

“Hard copy. Every time.”

And now to music. How do you buy and consume music?


Which musical artists appeal to your tastes right now?

“If you need headlines, I like rap, country and western. But I don’t identify with the music or the artistes that produce it. It just makes me feel good.

“Both genres are going through a revolution but to be honest, the age of identity-music is over. I think we are coming into an era of labelless music – anything that moves your mind, your soul or your feet works for me.”

Social networks: Hero or villain when it comes to giving you access to content?

“I don’t get the question.”

And are social networks like Facebook and Twitter actually media companies these days in your view, even though that is something they deny – perhaps to avoid further regulation?

“As long as identifiable publishers and news networks exist, Facebook and Twitter will only ever be a sideshow when it comes to news content.”

In the digital world, algorithms rather than humans are the media gatekeepers. Do you miss the old days when the likes of journalists, critics and broadcasters played that qualitative role, or have we simply evolved to a better quantitative system?

“I miss the human accountability of the pre-algorithm world. Everyones a publisher and journalist these days. As long as there is a rhythm and plenty of content on the supply side, that is good. What is missing is the analysis and consideration on the demand side. People just react, they consider a lot less.”

Finally, what does the future hold for the media space in your view – will artificial intelligence and virtual personal assistants take over to the point where we just trust the machines to tell us what we want to consume, in terms of news and entertainment?

“I hope not. I do not think that kind of dystopian world exists in the foreseeable future. Mankind has become a peculiar oxymoronic beast of self destruction and self preservation. Machines are still slaves to the humans and as long as we don’t get lazy, they will stay there.

“Whilst machines are designed to make life more convenient, we now have more time to think about the things that matter – curiosity is where we should be focussed. It may happen, but not in our lifetime.”


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