The media world is going through a time of wrenching change brought on by new technology, the rise of the Internet and folks getting fed up with the corporate mass media losing touch with their reality. How can a mega-chain of newspapers, a TV broadcast conglomerate, or a cookie-cutter radio system interpret what’s going on in your neighborhood? And in the world of entertainment, the big companies are more concerned with prosecuting file-traders than helping create easy digital avenues for customers to get what they want when they want it.
But the media shift isn’t just about small vs. big. It’s also about a new way of thinking, or perhaps bringing back an old way of thinking that’s been lost in the era of big media mergers and the bottom-line focus on profits over serving people. The democratization of media is about letting a billion flowers bloom, and turning the power of news analysis, commentary, punditry and spoofery over to the people, now that they have the cheap technology of blogs, digital video cameras and broadband Internet access.
And with this change comes a lot of trial and error, experiments that really cut through the hype and those that fall short. Sometimes these new intiatives are just old ideas dressed up in new media clothes. So I’ve decided to try to spell out how the media is shifting, both in mindset and in practical, real world ways.
Oldthink: Using focus groups and customer surveys to learn what people want.
Newthink: Employing real-time feedback loops such as online forums, blog comments, and wikis to capture the input of people.
Oldthink: Big brands such as Wal-Mart trying to look cool with limited social networking sites.
Newthink: A social networking site such as Xanga that spells out the dangers without filtering in advance.
Oldthink: Video services such as MTV Overdrive that limit the user base by requiring Windows PCs with the Internet Explorer browser.
Newthink: Video services such as YouTube that use technology such as Flash that doesn’t shut out Macs and Firefox web browsers.
Oldthink: Building a digital video recorder that doesn’t allow people to fast-forward through commercials.
Newthink: TiVo launches “Product Watch,” where subscribers can request information on products or services that interest them.
Oldthink: Making people watch TV advertising in public spaces such as grocery lines and elevators.
Newthink: Opening up the creative process by letting people create their own TV ads, such as what Chevy did for the Tahoe SUV.
Oldthink: Forcing people to register in order to read a news site or watch a video service, and then inundate them with targeted advertising.
Newthink: Letting people view a site without registering, and serve up targeted ads based on the interests of that person — a.k.a. behavioral advertising.
Oldthink: Relying on mainstream media TV coverage to follow wars and conflicts.
Newthink: Reading bloggers or citizen journalists who are eyewitnesses to wars, or soldier bloggers who are participants and can share their own stories in words or video. Seeing photos from people with cameraphones at the scene.
Oldthink: Reading, listening or watching media on the schedules set by executives and programmers.
Newthink: Getting the information, news and entertainment we want, when we want it, on the device we want it, with or without commercials.
Oldthink: Turning on car radios to hear the music or radio shows we enjoy.
Newthink: Getting satellite radio or plugging in portable MP3 players to our car stereos so we can listen to hundreds of commercial-free stations on satellite or thousands of podcasts downloaded from the Internet.
Oldthink: Believing the major news organizations will always get big stories right, and not make any mistakes along the way.
Newthink: Following credible bloggers who can unearth Photoshopped photos from a war zone, mistakes in coverage or bias, and faked sources for stories in mainstream media articles.
Oldthink: Thinking professional editors are the only ones who can decide what the important stories are each day.
Newthink: Realizing we have the power to choose what’s important, whether through aggregation services such as Google News or people-powered news sites such as Digg or personalized sites such as My Yahoo.
I invite you to add your own Oldthink vs. Newthink views on changes in the media world in the comments below. If enough people contribute, I’ll come back to this and update it with your ideas and thoughts.
[Photo by Eugene Zhukovsky.]