The Biggest Threat to Big Media …

04Mar06

As I mentioned previously, I was able to catch only a small portion of the New Communications Forum in Palo Alto this week because, well, client service had to come first. Most of us know how that goes.

One panel session I was able to take in was Dan Gillmor‘s presentation on the “Impact of Citizen Media” which was great. He discussed, among other things, how citizen media and technology is shifting the landscape of journalism and how we get our news.

One area of new media technology he discussed was on the topic of mash-ups and how they’re changing the way news is reported and commented on. He used one example of a mash-up of Google Maps being used to report on crime in a given area. Due to my poor note taking, I missed the name of the individual who is essentially pioneering this activity, but he highlighted how it is being utilized as an input for location or route and how the technology maps out specific locations along that route where crimes have taken place, better enabling users to determine if an area is safe. Another example he cited was the mashing of audio and video as commentary, in this case a political statement.

Very interesting stuff, and certainly these are examples of what the media at-large should consider incorporating into their everyday reporting, but few are. It was clear from the presentation that things are changing, however.

According to Gillmor, the biggest threat to big media isn’t blogs or bloggers, it’s eBay and Craigslist. Obviously, these two organizations are the new classified ads and are free, and it makes sense that as the popularity and overall use of both eBay and Craislist continue to grow, the ad revenue earned by traditional newspaper classifieds will continue to fall. As if dropping circulation numbers weren’t enough, papers can no longer count on their classified section either.

When he was discussing the mash-up examples he also cited the fact that in today’s technological climate, the younger generation is increasingly learning and using new media technologies like blogging and podcasting, and mash-ups, to communicate. This, IMO, can only bode well for big media’s future. But, if looked at on the flip side, maybe big media will be all right, but will the “older generation” pick-up what technology is putting down quickly enough to fend off the next wave of journalists … and hell, maybe citizen journalist? I don’t know. Eventually, all of these new tools that we use will become mainstream, blogging won’t disappear but simply become part of the bigger landscape. The question is how quickly will those trying to catch on or catch up get there?

I’ll close this way too long post with an anecdote from Gillmor that I think about sums up the future: “The daily ME will increasingly become augmented by the daily WE.” All that’s left now is for more people to join the conversation.

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