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goodby media paternalism « Previous | |Next »
November 2, 2009

As we know, the newsprint newspaper business model, as based on advertising, is fatally wounded because we are moving to an online world with the screen is gradually replacing ink-on-paper. Hence the declining circulation of print editions of newspapers.

Will print editions will become the supplement to the online editions and web journalism? Though the digital path is the one to take if local journalism is to survive and thrive in future, new for-profit models for supporting this work have not developed beyond erecting paywalls.

What we know is that big newspapers, big magazines, big radio and TV are industrial age creatures. Some will persist in the new age that is coming upon us. But they will need to adapt to the new networked environment, where everybody can contribute.That environment is new.

If the old, tottering media equate control with value, then that value needs questioning. Currently, though newspapers add their own content, they largely act as filters for news agencies, such as AP, Reuters, AFP and the like. Newspapers sort information rather than generate it. Secondly, modern popular journalism, is increasingly dominated by a celebrity-obsessed agenda and often reports serious issues as if they are entertainment. Thirdly, the content that will probably go behind Murdoch's pay walls are sport, page 3 girls, the commentary of celebrity journalists plus other stuff wrapped in a package called quality journalism.

So it looks as if corporate media doesn’t do much of value. They are mostly about control and gatekeeping, even though newspapers no longer own journalism.

Former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie and Columbia journalism prof Michael Schudson in their Reconstruction of American Journalism say:

Journalists leaving newspapers have started online local news sites in many cities and towns. Others have started nonprofit local investigative reporting projects and community news services at nearby universities, as well as national and statewide nonprofit investigative reporting organizations. Still others are working with local residents to produce neighborhood news blogs. Newspapers themselves are collaborating with other news media, including some of the startups and bloggers, to supplement their smaller reporting staffs. The ranks of news gatherers now include not only newsroom staffers but also freelancers, university faculty and students, bloggers and citizens armed with smart phones….

A new online world is in formation --a network--and a new era of journalism. If there is no crisis of journalism, there is one of the legacy mainstream media.

What is forming is the shift from creating sites that people come to to creating platforms that enable communities to share what they know and need to know, with journalists contributing value – reporting, editing, aggregation, curation-- to the network. As this European Commission report says:

During the first development phase of the Internet, most content was still produced and distributed in line with the old, rather centralised, broadcasting model. Today's Internet contains more and more content generated by individuals or groups of individuals. Some contains more and more content generated by individuals or groups of individuals. Some consider this trend of user generated/created content to be one of the most essential elements of what is called the "Web 2.0"...

They go on to say that:
If a great part of amateur content which is shared online corresponds to a growing need of being creative and keeping in touch with one's community, another part of amateur content is being developed by authors with more continuous and serious aspirations whose aim is to achieve a reputation. It is in particular this last group that contributes directly to the increase of global knowledge,culture and creation.

I've no idea how this is taking shape economically I've no idea, but it is happening.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:37 AM | | Comments (9)


"I've no idea how this is taking shape economically"

There won't be a single economic model. Chunks of it will follow the gift economy model, which you already see when some bit of amateur video goes viral. The value is social and cultural, not monetary.

It will be interesting to see what the paywalls achieve. Not so much whether they rescue traditional media, but whether paywalling will change anything outside the paywall.

For example what will Poison Pen and Loon Pond do if trollumnists go behind a wall?

The paywall is a blessing in disguise if the trollumnists are stuck under a tollbrdige.

The resources of the mainstream media are currently pointed in the wrong direction - toward maintaining current staffing, physical plant requirements and keeping the business profitable. The management mindset of the mainstream media is that everybody knows that the Internet is stealing readers and revenue and that none or very little will come back to newspapers.

How do they know all this? The management's gut tells that this is so. There is no need to take note of data that says otherwise.

We are seeing an explosion of creativity and innovation in media and journalism right now. Entrepreneurs and big companies alike are experimenting in new forms of journalism and ways to pay for it.

Derail sorry but I have to unload somewhere and this seems the best place available.

I know I shouldn't watch TV news but I did, accidentally, as I wandered through the TV room.
And there was Penny's smiling face and Mike Rann's not so smiling face and then an image of spray irrigation and [I think] gravevines and a voice saying some silly ....has lifted irrigation quotas from thirty something percent to forty something percent.

And they are spraying, spraying for the gods' sakes, water around as if there is oodles of it!!!!

I despair.

Oh incidentally, it was 43 degrees celsius at my place on the Murray today.
And windy.

I missed that bit of the news on ABC. But I am not surprised. Nor would I expect the mainstream media to critique what the SA politicians are actually up to. If the ABC news grab is reporting a staged media event, they also managed to show the contradictions in the way that SA uses water from the River Murray No differently from the other basin states--let irrigated agriculture grab nearly everything---whilst denouncing the other basin states.

Who sees the contradictions in the news grab? I haven't explored Your local ABC in any depth to see if there is any comment on this. There should be given the push to the digital townhall concept---ie., the shift away from " the broadcaster as oracle" to broadcaster "hosting a conversation".

The TV grab would be from the Riverland would it not --- I have seen spray irrigation there despite all the talk about SA being the nation in drip technology. I am surprised that Karlene Maywald was not there in the TV grab---after all it is her electorate and her statement says South Australia is getting 120 gigalitres, which will be shared between irrigators, critical human needs and the environment :

We've applied about 70 of that towards irrigator allocations, so we're going up from 34 per cent to 46 per cent, which is certainly much better than we've had over recent years.Heading in the right direction, but still a long way from where we need to be."

"Heading in the right direction means the most of the water now going to the Riverland irrigators whilst little --17 gigalitres-- goes to the river, wetlands or lower lakes. The latter have been sacrificed to protect the irrigators--even during a wine glut.There is an election coming up.

I'm inclined to think that the kindle style of technology is the thing to watch. If they get it right, and there is quite a bit of competition for something user groovy, including some Apple product due to launch, that might change the whole ballgame.

Instead of trying to stick things behind paywalls, Ruppy would be wiser to use the money he could save, when closing down actual newspaper printing, on employing a wider range of journalists and giving good deals for online subscriptions.


A friend of mine is in the middle of researching a bundle of stuff involving technology like the Kindle and similar. Early days, but it doesn't look as though those tablet-style readers are doing as well as expected.

One of the reasons is that when people pay for access to content, they expect full access with no conditions, and access to more than you'd get with the paper version of a book, journal or newspaper. Kind of like buying a dvd and expecting it will come with the movie plus interviews plus out takes plus trailers, posters, artwork and other stuff you'll probably never use.

Another reason is the aesthetics. You can't fill a bookshelf with hardcover Kindle, or spread Kindle on the coffee table or be seen reading something high falutin at a cafe.

I heard a bunch of young folk discussing the new Apple thingo recently and they agreed it sounded like a waste of time. Not a phone, not a laptop, so what's the point?

When you think about it, game consoles bundling exclusive content with particular content did themselves over trying to apply competetive market logic. If I have an XBox and you have a PS2 we can't share games. If you and I both know how to download XBox and PS2 games to a laptop, we can.

Similarly, the market logic driving the paywall idea fails to understand the importance of sharing that drives social media. What's the point of having access to Rupert's news if we can't share and discuss it?

It's very early days on the Kindle/tablet platform surely. They haven't even arrived in Australia so we cannot see how people will make use of this platform in a gift economy.