Why Traditional Press Is Fighting For Their Life

by Patrick on March 20, 2012


I had the immense honor of speaking to students at the National Defense University last week. To call these men and women students is a misnomer. The class was made up of veteran military and civilian officers who are studying the changing world of communications and its effects on National Security. When I sat down with the class I was instantly put in my place as the members of the class introduced themselves and their affiliations. I was invited along with a couple of local reporters to discuss the changing landscape of news media and what that meant for the future of newspapers and what we now call “Old Media”.

While I won’t present my entire presentation here, I wanted to leave you guys with a couple of ideas from that presentation. Giving credit where credit is due, a lot of my thinking comes from the work I did with Dan McGinn over the years- he’s forever changed the way  I view the world.

Asymmetrical Threats: a term used by the military to describe the changing landscape of war. In World War II countries fought other countries, today countries are fighting small factions that are spread out throughout the world. Who you thought was your enemy before is now totally different. This idea can also be used to describe the changing business landscape. Mike Daisey created controversy when his monologue illustrating the dangerous working conditions at the factories of Apple’s suppliers turned out to be highly exaggerated/fabricated.

New York Times has written many pieces about the story including one titled, “Theater, Disguised as Real Journalism

Think about that headline for a moment. Art interpreted as Journalism.

If you are a news agency, who are you competing against? Five or ten years ago you might say the folks over at Nightline or the New York Times- not a solo actor who decided to fly to China on his own dime.

Competition is now coming from places you wouldn’t have imagined.

The Changing Face of Success: What defines success in journalism? Is it reporting a story in a fair and balanced way? Is it breaking news before anybody else? Is it telling a tale so compelling it wins a Pulitzer?

In today’s crowded media landscape there is a new measure of success.

This is Gawker Media’s “Big Board” it is a real-time leader board of what posts across all of their sites is getting the most page views. It can be found in all Gawker offices and meeting rooms. For them the measure of success is simple: eyeballs, impressions, clicks. Read some of the headlines on the pages of Lifehacker, Jezebel, and Gizmodo and you shouldn’t be surprised.

We are changing from a world of quality content to a world of magnetic content. What does that mean for journalists writer the un-sexy stories that informed citizens should know?

Cutting Out The Middleman: Twitter has not only let us interact directly with personalities, but it has also empowered them to break their own news directly to the public. Shaq retired via 15 second video clip. Billy Crystal announced he was hosting the Oscars over Twitter.  Deion Sanders told people he was getting a divorce through Facebook.

With great power comes great responsibility. You can break news via social media or you can make news via social media.

Personalities and organizations have the power to control and make news, taking editorial control away from the press.

Theses are just some of my ideas on the changing media world- I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you think news is changing today?

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