Sunday, June 17, 2007

MSM burns - but all is not lost

Todd Defren of PR-Squared writes about the flaming wildfire that is mainstream media.

He notes shake-ups at the Wall Street Journal and the "massacre" at tech publisher CMP.

Among others, there are also changes at the Orlando Sentinel and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The mainstream media landscape is smoldering - with more explosions to come. Defren sugguest that with ...

[f]ewer publications and more competition for the table scraps could mean that the media we deal with become increasingly focused on edgy, cool stuff; celebrity-related crapola; leaks; controversy … it could even happen at the InformationWeek level

Longer-term, less pubs = less opportunities for coverage. Our jobs just got a bit harder.

Less mainstream pubs could also mean that it’s time for some clients to take a harder look at opportunities in the blogosphere.
However, while there are significant changes in how messages and news are transmitted to audiences - he points out that it's time for clients to take even harder looks at blogosphere opportunities - I disagree that there is less opportunity for coverage.

On the contrary: if clients and their counselors (or even readers) will be smart about their offerings, there is even more opportunity to appear in MSM publications.

News outlets, especially dead tree publications, are diverging into distinct elements: Digital and print. Some messages rely on words, some are more effectively delivered through multimedia.

Some are rich narratives that demand the intimacy of paper; you're mesmerized on the train and clutch the paper. You're enraptured by the back story so you take it with you and read it in bed. It's the same reason gravitate toward fine novels: Rich story telling is captivating.

The same story can be told in pithy, snarky bursts. Maybe, to fall on the cliche, a picture is worth a thousand words. Or in the age of YouTube or the video iPod, maybe a moving image is priceless. Mainstream publications are ramping up their digital capabilities, but many newsrooms still lack the technological sophistication to make things happen. This is a time when careful spoonfeeding can take place.

The MSM has been slow in sensing the sea change. But with Darwinian and free market principles in play, journalists will be moving more quickly to adapt - less they get stuck in the La Brea tar pit of yesteryear's information model.

More plainly, it means they'll likely be receptive to user-generated content. Or, if it makes sense and is smart, they'll take third-party digital offerings if it doesn't compromise their journalistic ethics.

Yes, the playing field is different. But there's no reason to think that there can't be ways to get on the scoreboard.

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