Facebook (and me) on 60 Minutes
by Charlene Li
In December, I received a call from the producers of 60 Minutes, the longest running news program on broadcast TV. They were doing a segment on Facebook and wanted to know if I could provide background for the story.
Wow. I couldn't believe that they were doing an entire segment on Facebook. Note that 60 Minutes' audience isn't exactly that familiar with social technologies -- after all, the average age of its viewer is around 50-60 years old (note: I couldn't find the exact age in time for this post, and this could be part of Les Moonves effort to move CBS News to a younger demo.) All the more reason why I jumped at the opportunity to try to explain the significance of Facebook and social technologies to this audience. (Besides, who wouldn't jump at the chance to be on 60 Minutes! THE 60 Minutes!)
I was also intrigued about how 60 Minutes would approach the story. Coming from newspapers), I've always had a great deal of respect for 60 Minutes and the quality of reporting (Rathergate not withstanding). Would they try to "dumb" it down? Or would they dig into the intricacies of Facebook, its users, and the hyper-competitive, dynamic environment?
So off I flew to NYC for the shoot. I sat in the chair while they adjusted lights (for the curious, here are two photos of me on the set. And for the even more curious, I did my own make-up). In a little while, Leslie Stahl came in with a stack of papers with questions on them. I have to admit, I do tons of media interviews, and I was really, really nervous. After all, this was 60 Minutes!
The tape started to roll, Leslie asked her first question, and then ensued the best media interview experience of my life. Leslie was completely prepared, totally on top of the subject, and followed up with poignant questions. It flew by in a blur and I had a blast.
will air this Sunday, Jan. 13th at 7pm ET/PT on CBS is available online. I haven't seen the segment yet, but do know that I'm in it (my 15 seconds of fame). From my interview, I believe that 60 Minutes will do an admirable job boiling down a complex, dynamic subject into 15 minutes. I hope that some of you will watch it (or TiVo it) and come back to comment on this post. I'd like to know if you thought that 60 Minutes -- the epitome of "mainstream media" -- got it right. If not, what did they miss, and how can we as an industry tell our story better?