Digital Media: Getting Away from Commodity News

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Most everyone knows how disruptive advances in digital media has been for certain industries. The Travel industry, Video Rentals, Book stores and traditional news print media have been shaken to their foundations. Indeed, those legacy businesses call it “disruptive,” but others call it evolution and opportunity. In this short article we will discuss the impact of digital media on “commodity news.”

Without doubt, the emerging digital news streams are redefining the meaning of journalism. Indeed, as more readers reject the packaged, watered down news that newspapers turn out, the traditional business and revenue models are breaking down. For legacy companies who don’t embrace the inevitable shifts taking place, financial oblivion is sure to follow.

New Model: Entrepreneurial Journalism

Many top journalists have seen the handwriting on the wall and have re-energized their passion as journalists. No longer tethered to editorial/company policy considerations, many journalists are focusing their skills on providing niche news targeted at certain segments of society. Just like the entrepreneurial class, former employee-journalists jump ship (or pushed off) and develop business and revenue models and then seek funding. It’s not that they become direct competitors with their former bosses, they offer a new channel for delivering more in-depth coverage and unique methods of presentation to readers around the world.

For example, digital media can deliver the written word, video and audio content to a variety of platforms such as the internet, tablets and other mobile devices. Moreover, targeted news can drill much deeper into a subject in the form of data analysis and research. Of course, some of the major print media such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have been leveraging their resources to build a significant online presence but the business model is different in that most of the information now comes from other than staff writers. Like so many businesses nowadays, outsourced contract sources are providing content.

Just at a time when there has been a world-wide consolidation of print media, the fresh breeze of devolution has swept in to help save us (hopefully) from agendized, coordinated, superficial commodity news. Indeed, with the time constraints placed on most of us, most citizens turn to the superficial, sensationalism of topical events that some unknown editors consider pertinent to our lives. Indeed, most tabloid news is “Digital Media for the masses.”

As with most disruptive technologies, those companies with a legacy infrastructure such as large printing presses, complex distribution channels and high overhead costs suddenly have seen their competitive advantage greatly diminished. But for consumers who have an interest or need, the disruption of the traditional newspaper industry is providing a wealth of new alternative sources. However, there is a potential downside.

As most of us now understand, the veracity of what is put out there on the net can be very suspect. In other words, who is making sure we are getting “the truth” and not just another spin on things? Recently on the Charlie Rose show, a panel of distinguished journalists reasoned that now the chains of subtle corporate restrictions has set them free to practice what they were taught in Journalism School: journalism based on a strict code of ethics and verification. It sounds good but the truth is an elusive thing. Maybe it’s best to point out that the new freedoms that journalists can now enjoy will offer new points of view as well as more in-depth analysis for certain topics. However, this renewal of Journalistic- values may be tested when the bottom-line becomes another new reality. That outlook depends on those consumers who really do require and are willing to pay for a greater understanding of complex issues and want more than just becoming outraged or incredulous.


Additional Reading

Assessing Your Website: A discussion with Digital Media Expert Lori Ulloa

The Future for Social Media


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