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As a Media Professional You Think You Know All the Current Trends? You May be Surprised on What Is Really Going on Out There in Our Media World.



Back in the mid 90s when the magic media word was “multimedia” an internal presentation was given to Sir Christopher Hogg, the chairman of Reuters. After the speakers had finished, Sir Christopher mused to a deadly silent room of executives, “ I understand what multimedia is. I understand what multimedia does. But what no one has ever been able to explain to me is how you make money out of multimedia.” 

Those comments are as true today as they were then. Brilliant ideas come and go.  But where’s the money? The world looked on in astonishment, and some jealousy, as two giant multimedia companies – AOL and Time Warner merged. Was this the future?  In 2002 the merged company announced the largest quarterly loss in corporate history. And now the AOL name is no longer a part of the Time-Warner name.  AOL has done better lately but its doubtful its name will ever go back on the parent corporate brass plate. One thing that merger proved --corporate “convergence” which looks good on paper may not actually work  in practice.

For the news professional, the New Media world has changed our lives forever. And even though the New Media bubble may have burst, philosophies born out of that revolution, such as “convergence in the newsroom” remain.

It used to be simple. You worked for a newspaper; you wrote newspaper stories for the two or more daily deadlines. You worked for a television station, and you prepared your piece for one of the main newscasts. And if you were a news editor on  a web site then that was a whole different operation, too.

But then the newspaper starts a website, and its sister TV station does so, too.  Suddenly that reporter changes from being a specialized reporter for one media into a converged reporter for all kinds of media. Does it work? The jury is still out but one thing is for sure – editorial convergence is not as easy to put into practice as it seems on paper, but it isn’t going away.

For news agencies the new media world has brought many opportunities but also some problems. While agencies try to produce as few mistakes as possible some do get through. But there was always the backstop that the agency copy went through the editing filter at their clients and misspellings and factual errors could be caught. But then came the online world and websites started taking that agency copy and automatically putting it directly onto the web without further editing. All those typios (yes, just like that one) in the picture captions are there for everyone to see. Silly factual mistakes that a client editing desk would have caught suddenly are in front of the world. And the world does not hesitate to e-mail you directly about the mistake.

And who are the customers for all this news. No longer just the newspaper, magazine, radio and TV station; now multimedia news, including still pictures and video, appears on our portable phones, PDAs, even in our cars. In fact, the odds are such that in most urban areas of our modern world you’re near a transmitter or in a satellite footprint that can supply you information on whatever electronics you’re carrying, or are at hand. And for news organizations that presents a new challenge -- boiling that 750-word masterpiece down to some 60 words that fit on a cell phone.

It’s a whole new media world out there, each part of it with its own special needs, and media organizations must adjust accordingly.

Philip M. Stone takes you through all of this and how the landscape is changing, sometimes changing back. Among the trends discussed, depending on the audience: 

Ø   With the exception of a major breaking story, the web is now NOT the first place people go for their news. So where do they go?

Ø   How do you convert an online web news audience to cash when almost 70% of web users say they will not pay for any service?  But you may be surprised what type of media web service they would be willing to pay for.

Ø   When global people want “local” news and information where do they turn? Not where you may think.

Ø   Do Internet surfers also read newspapers in great numbers, or is the internet a newspaper replacement?  Those who during the heavy days of New Media said forests will be saved because newspapers will disappear in just a few years had better think again.

Ø   European mobile operators transmit around 160 million SMS messages each month. That represents some 12% of their revenue. Doesn’t take a media genius to figure out that news should be a huge player there. But is it?

Ø   In the US, there is a trend by newspapers to reduce the size, or even eliminate completely, various financial tables. Even the Wall Street Journal and Barrons did it. Has that resulted in lost subscribers? Will we see that trend elsewhere in the world?

Ø   With advertising still down, magazines are tempted to switch to a lower grade paper to save costs. The University of Helsinki in Finland, one of the world’s major paper producing countries, says publishers who downgrade the paper quality do so at their peril. Hint: It’s all to do with paper psychology.

Ø   Is news on the web the draw it used to be? Of three major types of web sites, where do you believe surfers spend the most time: news and information, travel, or financial?

Ø   What is the one medium people would miss most if it was taken away:  newspapers, magazines, radio, television, or the internet? Hint: It’s the one people think best brings their family together.

The speech is tailored to the audience profile, but the message remains that the media landscape is changing – usually forward but sometimes a step back.


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