Where is the Heritage Media?

adrielhampton.com – Not long ago, I blogged about the need for the traditional media (I won’t call them “mainstream” anymore, because they are slipping so badly) to tap into what the federal government is doing in terms of embracing Web 2.0 tools and culture. Sadly, the legacy media is showing itself to be even more hidebound than that behemoth bureacracy. I’ve been immersing myself in Twitter, which I believe is a revolutionary technology that will grow lightening fast as mobile broadband expands around the world. The Twitter culture is a bit difficult to grasp, as nearly every “expert” has a slightly different take. However, it seems a natural place for old media to gets it sea legs and try out new ways of doing business.

They aren’t doing a very good job of it, though, that I can see. Please, correct me in the comments, because I may just not be trying hard enough, but what I see is that technologists and PR and marketing people are running on the bobbing Twitter decks while heritage media is scarcely to be found. Tech journos like @scobleizer and @mediaphyter are doing just fine, but the only press person I’ve found truly thriving in this 2.0 culture so far is @johnabyrne, who no doubt as editor of a business mag can see the writing on the wall.

Tell me I’m wrong, or tell me why Twitter isn’t the perfect place for notebook dumps. If I was still doing political journalism, I’d be on Twitter even more than I am now, and that’s a lot.

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Pam Broviak

As a consumer of news media, I have to agree with you. Putting news online makes so much more sense from a consumer’s viewpoint: it is searchable, can be easily archived, accessible from any online connection, makes it easy to compare stories across several media outlets; They could do so many cool things to supplement their delivery (like allowing genealogists to print out obituary notices in a custom made format that makes it a collectable document). Well I know this is all obvious to anyone here in this network.

I stopped getting our local paper over a year ago and never think to go to their website unless someone makes a really big deal about a story (which happened about twice over the last year). But if they would send out headlines through Twitter everyday, I would go there more often.

Based on my experience with our local paper, I would say traditional media is scared of the online environment because they are not yet sure how to leverage ad sales. Ads seem to be a major priority for our local paper, and I am not sure our area businesses would feel an online ad was worth the same money.

As for the difference between government use and traditional media use, sometimes I wonder if government has readily grabbed hold of Web 2.0 because we know the information and data we have is public property, and it has always been our job to get them access to it. So as much as folks want to believe government is controlling, our agencies are no where near as protective or controlling of distributed information as traditional media. Traditional journalism had gotten to the point that every story seemed to have become an editorial piece littered with the writer’s own spin. Most of us in government understand this – our messages and information to the public was always filtered through the local news media sometimes delivering a story we barely recognized. Finally we have a chance to give out unbiased information to the public, and I think most of us are jumping at the opportunity. But because traditional media has always controlled the message, they would not want to encourage this trend. But unfortunately for them holding back a tidal wave is impossible.

Dennis McDonald

What’s really killing legacy media is that digital media have totally trashed the traditional economics of publishing. Nowadays it’s possible to make one more copy of something “for free” because in most cases control over distribution has been divorced from content creation. There’s no way to economically require payment for content creation without imposing some sort of control (like DRM) that can be circumvented. Eventually the free headlines that pop up in structured search systems like Google News will dry up since such systems make it so easy to avoid paying for content creation. When that happens only the well-off will be able to afford traditional journalism; the rest will have to make do with citizen journalism and ad-supported corporate media.