Thursday, February 08, 2007

Replay the 'Media Mashups' Forum debate - and keep the discussion going

After more than an hour and half, we hit ‘pause’ – not ‘stop’ - on the provocative 5th Journalism Leaders Forum discussion on the challenges facing traditional media in the Web 2.0 Age.

At the time, the distinguished panel - Jane Singer, Alan Moore, Heather Hopkins and Mark Tungate – were responding to this question posted online by Mark Comerford from Sweden:

still talking to a large extent about your "traditional" base. How do you extend your brand to audiences you dont traditionally reach?

Afterwards, Jane Singer, the new Johnston Press Chair in Digital Journalism at UCLan, had this to add in response:

One of the advantages that traditional media have in the online world is their
'institutional memory' of their own communities, commonly stretching back through
many years and many generations -- which they can draw on in a variety of ways
and in combination with the new voices of users (including those both new to the
community and those with their own long-term knowledge and connections with it
as their home). None of the other companies jumping online and providing content
have a comparable capability that comes from long-term association with and deep
knowledge of a particular place, its people and its issues.

You can review a (unedited) recording of the Webinar here - and join the discussion by posting your comments on this blog. Or you can joining us for the 6th Journalism Leaders Forum scheduled for 15 May 2007. Better yet, why don't you do both?


Andy said...

Taking the pause off for a moment -

Brands Are Inside-Out, User Experience Is Outside-In

according to Robin Good, here -

Mark said...

And I would have to respond that one of the *disadvantages* that traditional media have in the online world is their "'institutional memory' of their own communities, commonly stretching back through many years and many generations".

It is often this institutionalized way of thinking of just who their audiences are that blocks the strategic thinking of so many media companies.

When I ask the people (often editors) on my courses if they know who their target audiences might be they inevitably answer by telling me who their *present* audiences are (and even here they are often off the mark), not who their possible audiences could be.
They fall back on an 'institutional memory' which all too often reflects an historically narrow view of their community - which frequently is tantamount to their readers.

So the question remains - how do we get past the 'institutional memory' and into a mind set that opens the field for fresh ideas?

Or to put it another way: How do newspapers get around the following (as described by Tim Porter):

"risk-averse newsrooms have spent several decades with their collective heads in the ink barrel, ignoring the changing society around them, refusing to embrace new technologies, and defensively adhering to both a rigid internal hierarchy and an inflexible definition of ‘news’ that produces a stenographic form of journalism, one that has stood still, frozen by homage to tradition, while the world has moved on."

Jane B. Singer said...

Hi, Mark. Good point, and I agree that 'institutional memory' can be restrictive if journalists fall back on it to do what they've always done (and to see the members of their community the same way they have always seen them -- mainly as consumers of a media product controlled by the journalists).

But long-term knowledge of and connections to a physical place and the people who inhabit it can be a key advantage if applied wisely and with an open mind. That understanding can and should inform the ways in which journalists interact with citizens and collectively pursue topics of importance to the community. And as a practical matter, it is something that few competitors -- from national outlets to online newcomers -- are likely to have.


Anonymous said...


Jeanne Hill said...

Too bad journalists, who otherwise such intelligent, tuned-in and knowledgeable people don't seem to be able to understand some basics about branding and 'the market'. No matter what we, inside our companies, want to think our 'brand' represents, to the audience, or 'world out there', the brand is defined by their experience of it, not by rhetoric or advertising. Do you, as a journalist, accept with blind faith the messages pumped out from companies about their products? Of course not. Now apply the same logic to your own potential markets.