In an article called The Web: Alarming, Appealing and a Challenge to Journalistic Values we find a study made with a survey and an analysis.
The financial crisis facing news organizations is so grave that it is now overshadowing
concerns about the quality of news coverage, the flagging credibility of the news media, and
other problems that have been very much on the minds of journalists over the past decade.
In other words, journalism sustainability is a key issue between jouranlists community.
Overall, 16% of national journalists – including 26% of those working
in print – cite the current business model for journalism, or the specific challenge of making a
profit from web journalism, as the most important problem facing journalism.
Despite of Internet being a “threat” to media status quo, journalist recognize how positve it is for communication. Jouranlists now embrace new technologies, they have no choice. They are able to work in multiple platforms and they recognize new information technologies as a chance to build more complete stories. BUT losing control in final product is a challenge for both: journalists in one side and media companies in the other. So, we are in front of a wonderful communcation tool that is a threat to today’s status quo.
Journalists tend to call control “quality”, because they join quality to control even they do not intend to do so. For them, seeing how so many people come to publish content online is a loss of quality (i. e. control). It is hard to accept and so, there is a conservative barrier that is difficult to jump for many. Here it comes where a media company should make a clear definition on what is business and where our newsroom begin. We cannot build up sustainable communication enterprises purely based in “quality” (in control), and, in fact, journalists are so scared with new realities that they know it. But, in the other hand, journalists do not accept easily allowing business people to get into what they consider their territory. At least, we cannot build up media business based in hard control, we have to move on clearly to soft control, soft power. (An this is something that other online business like eBay, which I knew from inside did from the begining).
A holistic approach to media management, in fact, has to approach media independence as a consequence and a reason (at the same time) to generating healthy revenues. What is at the service of what? Is revenue generation serving independent business, or is an independent business serving a considerable revenue stream? For sure, it is imposible to know what comes first. If there is something we know is that without final customers -both, readers and advertisers- private media are simply not sustainable.
Talking on united or separated newsrooms online/offline is a very hot topic among journalists these days. Not so much has been written on how revenue generation and newsroom should be related in a modern media business. Newsroom should concentrate in “soft power”, in values, leaving for revenue generators organizational and product management. Journalists concentrate in building and keeping long term credibility and business developers should concentrate in building financial sustainability.
I do not like to read dark statements when I go to personal blogs, and so, I am not going to be unclear: media business can only be sustainable if cost structure is decided AFTER we know how, and how many revenues we are going to generate. Demmand, i.e. audience and advertisers have to drive content creation and aggregation; it is not possible any more to drive content generation based in purely editorial criteria (top-down). At least, in the short term. In the long term, sustainability is based in a trustable, easy to recognize and solid editorial and credibility. It takes years to build credibility and it is impossible to do so by just a business sustainability focus.
A modern media business need to be based in long term editorial core values that cannot be changed and must be decided by journalists and editorial top management in an independent way. Those values have to be powerful and they have to move all the company. After those values are clearly settled and directed, everything else have to be decided with a business perspective by business managers who decide with a view in roi maximization but always taking values as their axis in decision making. As long as there is a clear core of values understood and judged with editorioal criteria, everything else is business.
This suggested division is what can allow us to be fast moving while capitalizing credibility. We have to move fast on managing our business this way or we will be soon eaten by those who are already doing it, and they are not exactly media (or content) business in a traditional way.
November 11, 2008 2 Comments
In his article Comunication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society, Manuel Castells points how the rise of “mass self-communication” changed communication landscape enabling social movements that were before aside of main media. In fact, mass media and those “horizontal” movements, are converging.
We moved from a one-way message from one to many to a network society in which communication is global and horizontal. Although, there is to some point, a certain degree of “electronic autism”, that means people who are developing contents for themselves instead of doing it for an audience (like this blog, for example); even in this case, contents are able to be taken, read, and use by others. Traditional media are in a contradictory position when adopting horizontal content production approaches and this is due to some political and businesses struggles.
Main characteristics of new situation according to Castells:
- massive; potentially global
- self-generated; self-directed; self-selected (I would summarize it as customized)
One example of the shift towards mass-self communication in media businesses are their investments: Newscorp acquisition of Myspace.
To some in the traditional media business, these are the most stressful of times. But to us, these are great times. Technology is liberating us from old constraints, lowering key costs, easing access to new customers and markets, and multiplying the choices we can offer. (Murdoch, 2006)
We have seen other movements in the same direction and there seems to be an absortion of new networks by older media. Castells concludes that we are in the struggle fo humankind to free our minds.
We are going to an asymetric rather than horizontal communication model, and it is due to differences in culture, time and priorities among individuals. Our profile when facing new technologies differ, and some people will tend to get more power than others (with the mentioned power balance change mentioned by Castells). This will shape society in a different kind of power relationships (not purely horizontal). Of course, horizontal in Castells, is more related to “potentially horizontal” than to really horizontal.
October 27, 2008 Comments Off
In communication, media (Singular: Medium) are the storage and transmission tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to a single medium used to communicate any data for any purpose. (wikipedia)
Following this definition that wikipedia borrowed from 3 different dictionaries, media is a set of tools to store and deliver information or data. But, more than merely data, media delivers data put into context, or, what Popper calls world 3 knowledge and Craig McDonald concretize in “statements”. Popper’s 3 worlds of knowledge are helpful to understand what is media. According to this cosmology we have 3 worlds of knowledge:
world 1: physical universe
world 2: subjective personal perceptions. Mental procedures to buid thinking.
world 3: statements. Those productions expressed through language, descriptions. Necessarily, statements are related to a context.
Therefore, media is something from worlds 1 and 2 that composed of world 3. The process through which media allows statements to be sent from one to another is communication. In order to have a complete communication, we need a common code of symbols and values. There may be lower levels of communication when there are less shared values and symbols. Therefore, communication is very much related to common values and symbols. Values and Symbols play a central role in Media.
Men lived in a world of direct communications centuries ago, then in a world of mediated oral communication through tales, leyends or songs… we lived later on a continuous technological improvement: ink, paper, printing… information technologies… we have reached more capacity to communicate (data) than ever. But communication remains to be the same, because what we are doing is just to put knowledge in common, statements, not just data. The fact that we can transfer more data in a given second does not necessarily mean we are transferring more meaningful information (statements), it may just mean that statements are more clearly defined or supported. Our business is more in statements than in data, or, to make it easier, in what we communicate than in how we communicate it.
It is of a great relevance in order to understand what is this business about, to have a clear idea of what is communication. Media exist because there is a need for communication, and so we need vehicles to communicate. The end, the goal, is to communicate statements. Producing a sustainable media, is a result of a successful communication process. Accordingly, media business developers are a medium, a resource, not a goal. Our goal as online media is to communicate as much as we can to as many people as we can, then, because there is a lot of communication going on, we monetize it making it a sustainable and profitable business.
October 22, 2008 2 Comments