Thursday, June 14, 2007

MSM digital divide

Edelman public relations recently hosted a fascinating summit that highlighted the intersection of the MSM and social networking.

Richard Edelman, CEO of the PR agency, quoted Gordon Crovitz, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, who gave a snapshot of digital's influence on print:

Crovitz—Digital changes the print product. Newspapers have been great repositories of events that occurred the day before but this cannot work in the digital world. Our readers of the print product want more understanding and interpretation. They want what were second day stories on the first day. Commodity news will be reported by our news service, Dow Jones, and taken up by our on-line reporters. Our reporters have a better chance than ever to tell the full story because we have no space constraints on-line. We are trying to become more vertically targeted. Our blogs in specific industries such as health give us a chance to target the younger readers who are more specialized. We are now doing co-ventures with certain journalists, such as the D conference with Walt Mossberg. There is tremendous value in established brands such as the Wall Street Journal. The most popular recent piece of video on was from Toyota; it was a Lexus that parallel parks itself.

Whether you practice PR or write for traditional media, it's clear that "stories" in the old sense need to be conceived of in multiple platforms. What works in print may need reworking to reach the digital audience. While not exact, the tranformation is something like converting a novel to the big screen. Books achieve deep character development because the writer can demonstrate motivation to the reader. Movies show action and captivate the senses.

The same dicotomy is in play for those who use MSM for communication: Digitial display and print are different beasts with different weakness and strengths.

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