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26 June 2008

Traditional Media v. New Media Punch Up at #pubcamp Sydney

It was very interesting to see the panel discussion at #pubcamp Sydney last week - the topic was "How media companies are dealing with the challenges of this new world - including traditional media, online media and hybrid ventures," the moderator: Mark Jones (Filtered Media); and panelists: Kathy Bail (Fairfax), Jackie Blondell (Hardie Grant), Stuart Clarke (homepageDaily), Ben Gerholt (IDG), Tony Kenna (Abundant Media), David O'Sullivan (Media Publishing / itechne).

The panel pretty much argued that editorial processes of traditional media is good and holy, that blogs are often poorly written and that most new media is not edited properly and is done by people who don't know how to write. I remain confused as to why bad writing is so scary, there is so much of it in the newspapers & magazines everyday.

The stance taken by the panel really seemed to polarise the audience and the twitter backchannel went berserk.

It is ironic how the participants in the traditional media have lost sight of their own historical roots in citizen journalism. News media has been taken over from the early heady days, where news media advocated radical social change (like getting the kiddies out of the coal mines or universal male suffrage), by corporate entities (mostly men in suits or the old media silverbacks as I like to call them) who tend to advocate for the status quo.

Also there appears to be a failure to understand how the forces of fragmentation are beginning to impact media consumption. The internet has created the ability for communities of like minded individuals to connect, share and co-create content. Previously traditional media was a force for creating consensus because there were so few alternative voices. Now alternative voices are becoming the norm.

In spite of what many folks in the new media camp like to say, I think that the imminent demise of traditional media is totally over-hyped. It reminds me of the similar declarations of the death of the mainframe in the 1990s. Mainframes are still with us and continuing to do a good job in their rightful place. Traditional media will be much like the mainframe, useful and helpful in its place.

But on the other side it is amusing how much of the activity in the 'new' media space is actually using newer technology to do traditional media type activity. The only viable monetization model continues to be advertising. And I don't really think things will change, even in the new media space, unless we can identify alternative monetization strategies.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

2 comments:

Craig Thomler said...

Very well said Kate.

It's intriguing to observe from your post how 'traditional' media pundits have redefined media as 'edited content' when that's clearly not how audiences perceive it.

Editing is a useful value-adding process, but it's the packaging not the product.

However I can see why those in traditional media have this mindset.

I'm regularly finding spelling mistakes in the online versions of newspapers and it annoys me substantially more than finding mistakes in blog posts.

I have an expectation - created by these newspapers - that their work will be thoroughly edited and spellchecked. Therefore by having errors they fail to meet my expectations.

However for blogs I have no such expectations - therefore they do not fail to meet them when they suffer from the same issues.

People from traditional media look at blogs and judge it by their own expectations for traditional media. So when they find grammatical gaffes and spelling mistakes it fails to meet their expectations of what media delivers.

They then transpose those expectations onto their audience.

This is where they lose touch with their audience - who can distinguish between 'professional' and 'amateur' media and do not have the same expectations for both.

Bottom line, traditional media owners just don't grok the difference.

Gavin Heaton said...

I think the greatest challenge to traditional media is not "new media" but measurement. As soon as a model emerges for measuring social media, its reach, influence and impact on business objectives, then it will really turn the world upside down.