Mesh and Should Old Media Be Afraid of New Media?

Live Blogged Notes

Barbarians at the Gate – Should Old Media Be Afraid of New Media?

Mark Evans talks with Rachel Sklar, Cynthia Brumfield and Loren Feldman.

mark: things are changing; I used to be in newspapers, I still read them…papers are laying off people, they can’t get revenue from online.

Rachel: the laying off (SanFranChron) is part of a larger trend. the smart newspapers are seeing it as an opportunity, the ones that refuse to change will be wiped out, but there is incredible opps for business to grow in new direction, to discover new talent, for citizen journalism, I’m looking to see how the industry adapts to the change.

Mark: does the industry need to reload? get multi-taskers, new people before they can move forward? are they prepared or just scrambled.

Rachel: they are scrambling, a heedless rush to get new things without realising their institutional memory is still valuable, to build a story, to recognise trends etc. I don;t buy into the new vs old, there’s value in the people who have been there, done that, The smart publications will recognise these strengths

Mark: are broadcasters a little more likely to experiment? or are they scrambling?

Cynthia: the video situation is more complex; broadcasters do not depend on subscriptions but on advertising, so easier transition. the tradition networks are losing audience and are increasingly going for lowest common denominator and looking like dinosaurs. THe biggest impact on those that depend on physical distribution – newspapers, music industry – previously dependent on physical distribution. they have to protect it as that is the business model. they can’t easier jetison. it’s a little easier for broadcasters, physical stuff was less important.

Mark: Loren, are you the old media’s worst nightmare.

Loren: to a certain extent…when viacom pulled stuff from YT it did not dent the traffic. There’s room for all. I do 60-90 seconds, I’m not goign to replace CSI or the big shows. the web is not little TC, it;s completely different medium.

Mark: is Google destroying journalism? is the search/RSS etc doing this, compete against traditional

Rachel: it;s bout efficiency, it’s about having quick and dirty version. But I’m a traditionalist, I enjoy going to an actual site, or a magazine, to see an layout etc, YOu can;t take a computer to the beach to read your gossip! Tangible media will not go away as there is a tangible object there.

Mark: are traditional delivery systems irrelevant?

Cynthia: my parents gave up their paper subscriptions as they can get it online. He now looks at far more, 20 newspapers a day; the web has opened up the geographic reach of what you can read and experience. Google has opened up competition – there’s no longer one paper in town. Google has improved the efficiency,

Now we start Questions from audience?

Q: Where are we going with web entertainment?

Loren: ustream and event based programming will increase.
Cynthia: never cease to be amazed at what works. Look at justin.tv. Look at the cheese watching camera – watching the cheese age.
Rachel: the playing field is flat. you have 8yo making imac movies, the barriers to entry has collapsed and everyone is a potential artist. Some people may think that talent is no longer a requirement, but people watch all sorts. If not entertaining or good we will not pass it on. Evolution of dance was successful as no language barrier so sipped around the world.

Q: how will ownership of infrastructure influence the shape of media?

Loren: as long as my stuff gets out, I don;t care how, what or who.
Cynthia: the phone companies pushed for payment etc which led to net neutrality (???). It’s too late for carriers to pick what goes on the web. A rational response to to charge people more for the more they watch. I think this is OK (RC: Don;t agree the war is won – see espn/jason calacanis)
Rachel: google buying up dark fibre shows that they are a company that thinks ahead, that’s why they are doing so great.

Q: do you see your media being used differently by the younger generation?

Loren: we are in an attention economy, there are only so many hours in a day. I do 90 seconds, I think that wil reduce with a younger generation, you have to be good and short to get that attention.
Cynthia: my teenage daughter..they roam around the web in enclosed spaces. Zanga then MySpace and then Facebook. They are limited in what they do. they don’t use email, it;s all IM. With the opening up of Facebook platform, now they can stay there all they want. No need to travel around. There world has shrunk!
Loren: it’s AOL – they stay in community and don;t go outside it
Rachel: I’m a huge HP fan..and when you say make it short I think about when the new book comes out, may will stop and read the whole book. Quality still plays.
Loren: newspapers will be here in the future – people like touching a newspaper, I don;t have to power anything, I just pick it up and read. Lots of people do not have computers, In a diner I like reading a newspaper. They have to change there content; it’s not breaking news, it’s about depth. Analysis is their forte. Commentary and sports will carry on. They need to cut infrastructure, and change the content.

Q: What advice to old media on managing perception of authority?

Rachel: most important thing is to be right. I’d rather be right than first. I hold back on things I can;t confirm or stand behind.
Loren: I would tell the NYT not to worry about Digg or wikipedia. they are both a joke, Digg is a horror show, a bunch of morons piling on. Focus on the work, do quality stuff. When you worry about the competition you are dead, you need to focus on you and your work.
Cynthia: newspapers were blindsided as they did not think their could be competition.
Loren: Arrington is one guy, he does not have all the infrastructure, he can hussle and get the stories, the one hussler is a bigger threat than the other orgs. And Arrington no longer needs to hussle.

Q: how can you get the old guard to be less fearless of online?

Loren: tell them their family won;t eat anymore unless they learn it.
Cynthia: are their people on the journalism side looking askance at the web?
Loren: motivate them by giving them the freedom. I do everything for my content; there’s something liberating and freeing about this. about not getting approval. How can any writer not embrace this freedom.
Rachel: teach them how to check reach, ego is a motivator.

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