Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two pioneers of the new media review the changing landscape

A great writeup by Arianna Huffington on the changing shape of the media, in a column appropriately titled "It's the Consumer, Stupid."
The key question is whether those of us working in the media (old and new) embrace and adapt to the radical changes brought about by the Internet or pretend that we can somehow hop into a journalistic Way Back Machine and return to a past that no longer exists and can't be resurrected.

The great upheaval the news industry is going through is the result of a perfect storm of transformative technology, the advent of Craigslist, generational shifts in the way people find and consume news, and the dire impact the economic crisis has had on advertising. And there is no question that, as the industry moves forward and we figure out the new rules of the road, there will be -- and needs to be -- a great deal of experimentation with new revenue models.

But what won't work -- what can't work -- is to act like the last 15 years never happened, that we are still operating in the old content economy as opposed to the new link economy, and that the survival of the industry will be found by "protecting" content behind walled gardens.

Consumer habits have changed dramatically. People have gotten used to getting the news they want, when they want it, how they want it, and where they want it. And this change is here to stay.
Here's Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, one of the earlier innovators of the new media, talking about newspaper execs' resistance to making the changes Arianna described as inevitable. He points out that contrary to what many newspaper execs are arguing, investigative journalism will always remain as someone will fill the void. Moulitsas also counters the notion that newspapers deemed as more "credible" should get search engine preferences over blogs, aggregators and opinion websites. He says that what it should come down to in terms of gaining readership is the quality of the content, not brand image. Let the consumer decide, not corporate decision-makers.

It seems as though many traditional outlets view the media transformations of the last decade as an unfortunate result of undesirable, exogenous events that we must fight for the good of journalism. But what Arianna and Markos argue is that these changes have been brought about by improvements in the landscape of news, which consumers have knowingly and willingly adapted to. In essence, the consumer is now more in control than ever and as Arianna warns news outlets, "Evolve or perish. Resistance is futile."

No comments:

Post a Comment