Understanding The Changing Media Landscape

Posted on 11/4/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

At the recent PACA International Conference in New York internationally-known visual journalist Tom Kennedy discussed the “Changing Media Landscape.” Kennedy was Managing Editor for Multimedia at The Washington Post, Director of Photography for the National Geographic Magazine, and Assistant Graphics Director at The Philadelphia Inquirer before taking up his current position as Alexia Chair Professor for Documentary Photography in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

In order to understand how things have changed he reminded the audience of what media was like in the 20th century (not that long ago). Journalism used to be governed by the “Economics of Scarcity.” There was a limited amount of information and the compilers had time to sort through, check facts and find the truth. The cost of setting up and maintaining distribution outlets effectively limited their number, and it gave publishers control over what content would be accepted for distribution to the public.

Then along came the Internet. Publishing is free. Instantaneous delivery 24/7 is expected. Everyone is a content creator. There is an abundance of information. Special skills are no longer required, often leading to confused, inaccurate information being widely distributed. There is little time for fact checking. Attention spans are shorter and shorter. The only scarcity now is in the time consumers have to sort through their mostly free options.

The core problem publishing used to solve — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

Kennedy referred his listeners to the work of Clay Shirky, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. His recent books are Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008) and Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (2010).

The big problem for traditional media is that it is supported by advertising. Advertising in print, TV and radio used to be the only way companies could get their message to consumers. But it is very inefficient. Narrowly targeted and trackable digital advertising has the potential to be much more efficient for certain advertisers.

Shirky points out that in an effort to protect their franchises, media companies have tried a number of things, with very limited success.
    1 – Giving away of some content for free and charging for other stories has proved unpopular. Consumers want everything online to be free despite the fact that they are willing to pay for the delivery of printed materials. Some consumers are willing to pay small amounts for online access to content that is specifically targeted to their needs unimpeachability and convenient to access.
    2 - People resist education on the copyright laws because they desire free access
    3 - Ferocious litigation has not constrained massive, sustained lawbreaking. Suing people who love something so much they want to share it only alienates them.

    4 - Hardware and software manufacturers do not view copyright holders as allies. Their goal is to sell product. To do that they strive to give customers what they want.
Shirky says, “One of the effects (of the Internet) on newspapers is that many of their most passionate defenders are unable, even now, to plan for a world in which the industry they knew is visibly going away. If the old model is broken what will work in its place? The answer is Nothing. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke.

“With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem,” Shirky continued.

Adapting to the Change

Stock and editorial photographers are in the communication business. Kennedy outlined six purposes of communication: Information, Entertainment, Persuasion, Education, Individual Creativity and Facilitating Social Good.
He called DSLR’s a “game changer” and said that “visual journalists will use multimedia to present stories crucial to the audience.” There will be more demand for video with audio that provides immersive narrative, character development, chronology and action.

Audiences will find the information they want not just in print, but on iPads, iPhones, Android, social networks, set top boxes (Apple TV, TIVO, DVR), websites, YouTube and other yet to be designed devices.

There are over 500 million users on Facebook Twenty-year-olds get more of their news from social networks than from traditional sources. They rely on their social contacts for validation or what is news worthy. Worldwide, 48 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day. 1.095 trillion YouTube videos are viewed each year. A very small, but growing percentage of that material is of professional quality, but it is enough to supply an important part of the information needs of many.
Among the future online journalism activities will be:
    Take/edit photos
    Record/edit audio
    Record/edit video
    Write/voice video narrative
    Build photo galleries
    Build audio slideshows
    Edit email newsletters
    Edit/send news alerts
    Post/edit online stories
    Manage web news flow
    Build/edit databases
    Manage UGC networks
    Moderate UGC comments/photos/video
    Moderate live chats
    Use social networks/tools
It is not clear what the compensation will be for any of these activities.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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