Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts on the Shifting Media Landscape

Still working on creating the forum for that Future of Media discussion group. But since these issues have been in the news alot lately I felt the urge to throw out a few thoughts on what is going on in media triggered by recent coverage and observations. Some of these things I've said before but nevertheless:

  • What is facing media is a media revolution that will make the invention of the printing press look like the invention of the salad shooter, unlike every previous media revolution the only barriers to entry are literacy and a set of computer skills that an average person could pick up in a day.

  • The recession didn't cause this, it has accelerated the shift but didn't cause it.

  • This isn't really a public policy issue, there is very little that Parliament or the CRTC can do to change it. They could, if properly persuaded and if they wanted to spend a fortune throw up roadblocks and barricades but it would be an incredible waste of resources, the barriers won't hold back the flood they will only create an adversarial relationship between old and new media. I will always fight for network neutrality and against silly, intrusive copyright laws like C-61 but not because either of these would change anything. If I lose these fights people will find a way to beat the system, things will go on as they are, but the level of animosity created by excessive traffic shaping, or copyright protection would kill just about every current mass media company.

  • Many in media have criticized the Detroit 3 for being out of touch, not competitive with newer companies and failing to make products that consumers want. Ironically these are the same criticisms that have been leveled at much of the main stream media.

  • The claims of tradition in the media hold no water. Other than book publishing Journalism is the oldest of the current mass media and Journalism has only slight claim to tradition. The concept of Journalistic objectivity didn't emerge until the 1890s (less than 120 years ago), and the first Journalism school in the world turned 100 last year (2008). I know people have short memories and short attention spans these days but traditions that go back 100 years are hardly sacrosanct.

  • Don't get me wrong. I don't want media to go away. I don't think it will but the ground has shifted dramatically and people who currently work in media have to understand what has changed and adapt. They have to re-learn much of what they know and they have to learn to compete in a world where many of their "competitors" are operating with little or no budget and few resources. Many of these "competitors" in fact don't even see you as a competitor, they don't analyze in that way. They do what they do because they enjoy it. They cultivate and communicate with their audience and pay little or no attention to what traditional main stream media is doing.

    One of the most frequent mistakes I see people in main stream media, including new media projects that are attached to MSM make is placing themselves on a pedestal. The new audience doesn't want to read your resume. They don't care about your education, experience or credentials - only the quality of your output and it's value to them. If you demand acknowledgment and respect from the audience based on what's written in your CV they will likely ignore you completely and, though they won't notice, you will go away.

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