Yesterday evening I happily spent some time following the Journalism Leaders Forum through Twitter and a live video stream. There was much debate about the vague pointlessness of one of the sessions – “Why isn’t more media translating into more money for mainstream media companies?” – with the feeling that the time for talking about this is pretty much over. It’s time to start getting out there to find the answers.
Ironically, this morning I woke up to find some excellent blogging around the session (much of it critical, mind), the choice meats of which I present for your enjoyment:
- “I get annoyed when people suggest that the only people who can deliver
news to the public are newspaper journalists. I believe that is an
arrogance based upon fear.” – Joanna Geary.
- “Er, sorry to be the one to break it to you guys (and it was all male), the horse hasn’t just bolted, he’s built his own nice new stable in your garden.” – Sarah Hartley
- “In case some of the mainstream media haven’t got this yet – ‘THE WEB DOES NOT OWE YOU A LIVING’. It doesn’t care that you have been doing this for years, you have to earn your eyeballs like everyone else.” – Andy Dickinson
Like many of those actually present in the room, I do find myself wondering how often we’re going to have to answer the same questions from our journalistic colleagues about the web.
The next mindshift change journalists need to go through is that they
no longer have a finished product. The issue is never complete. The
feature is never done. The news is always evolving. And this is hard for us old-school hacks.
If you were to ask a group of people what words they associate with
journalism, I’d lay odds that “deadline” would be in there somewhere.
But we’re moving into a post-deadline age, when the publishing time is
now, and then as soon as you have new information. Or a new
conversation. Or a new contribution.
The web is providing us with the tools to move away from static
“finished” story pages to ones that evolve and change with the news. And
we need to work out how to adapt our journalistic processes with it.
This has all sorts of implications. How do we set targets when stories are never done? How do we structure our sites? Do site structures even matter as links, widgets and embedded content break down magazine-like containers? What’s the role of a news editor in an age when they no longer have the power to pick the top story?
Ironically, this “live story” idea is something that the best journalists have always
done well – followed up on stories, and follow them as they grow – and
the poorer ones have always struggled with. But now it’s different. It’s going to happen more transparently, and in public. The journalist may lead (or aggregate) the research and discussion, but others will contribute, too.
And there’s no choice but to get a
grip on it now, because if you can’t keep the discussion around key
issues live. then your traffic, and your livelihood will head elsewhere.
Om Malik is suggesting that the slowing rate of broadband adoption in the US will lead companies to try and boost their speeds to upsell consumers. It makes sense, as it will allow them to continue growing, even as the early boosts from the initial wave of broadband adoptions start to fade.
Now, that’s a much more positive angle on the broadband industry than the UK is showing. Virgin’s call for the BBC to contribute to the bandwidth costs of the successful iPlayer is just ludicrous. For one, the BBC is already paying its own supplier, and at the other end, the customer is already paying for the bandwidth. If the ISPs were genuinely committed to serving their customers, they’d have been following the rapid growth of audio and video streaming and downloading amongst their users, and putting plans in place to facilitate it. Penalising another company for being popular with their customers is just not the way forward.
This is an important debate for those of us in the media to keep a watch on. This fundamentally affects both the major future content delivery platform for our work – and our costs for accessing it.
One of those days.
We’ve been planning the upgrade of our Movable Type servers for months now. I thought – hoped, even – that we’d press the button and do the upgrade this week. Ah, well.
It turns out that a particular testing resource we need before we’ll get full internal approval to do this won’t be available until the weekend – which means that the big server update will happen next week at the earliest. And that means I’ll need to re-arrange a week off I had scheduled. Which was to get the flat on the market…
…life is rather too much like one of those domino collapse movies people with too much time on their hands enjoy making, isn’t it?
I had a very weird, very retro experience this lunchtime. Lorna and my in-laws are back from their Florida holiday, and I offered to take my mother-in-law’s film (yes, film) in for developing. As one of my colleagues remarked “Do they still do that?”
I handed over my film and cash – and was surprised to be handed back a free, replacement film – that was 36 exposures, rather that the 24 I’d handed over.
And somewhere at the back of my head, I got a strange feeling of deja vu – like this was something that used to be quite common, and which has come back into fashion. Am I right? Or am I just mis-remembering?