My Experience as an Example of Old and New Media

I realized after writing earlier this morning about the way new media is changing the news that my experience was a perfect example of the way that old and new media can interact to augment each other. It also pointed me to one of the key factors that is hurting existing media organizations and thus a possible way to reverse the trend in theory. Unfortunately I am unable to identify a business model that would take advantage of this theoretical key.

Consider the example. A newspaper journalist decides to do a story on the impact of new media on our political system. He interviews someone who has used new media to follow a political campaign in a way that traditional media sources sis not provide. He contacts elected officials and other people connected with government. He contacts a political blogger (me in this case). he takes all the information that he has gathered and using his own experience and his skill in the art of written communication tells a story showing how new media is changing the face of politics and what it means to citizens. He turns the story over to his editors who take that story, assign it a place in the paper, edit it for content and in the interest of meeting size limitations on their physical page trims part of the story – the part that explains what this means to the average reader. It has now become a story without a moral – not because the journalist failed, but because of space limitations.

After that happened I, as a blogger who is not constrained by any physical space limitations in what I write, posted the entire list of questions I was asked as the journalist prepared his story and my full answers. This is the unfiltered data from one source which the journalist used to create his story. One symbiosis between traditional journalism and citizen journalism is that those who are interested in what the journalist wrote could look into the raw questions and answers that produced the story and decide for themselves what more they can learn than the paper was able to publish.

I realized this morning as I reflected upon the process of producing that story from fact gathering to publication that a key factor that is hurting old media organizations is that they are trying so hard to put out the maximum amount of information within their limited physical space that they have sacrificed the moral to virtually every story (that’s easy to do because taking out the moral can also make them feel more objective) and the result is that readership declines (especially paid readership) not because reporters are doing their thinking for them, but because almost all thought is expunged from the final product in the interest of keeping a maximum amount of data.

The theoretical way to reverse that trend would be to use digital media with traditional reporting to again publish the whole story – without space limitations. Those organizations interested in having a physical paper could use the paper as a gateway to the digital content – showing teasers of stories with the full story online and/or only printing the top story or stories in the paper while printing all stories worth printing in the digital version. The digital version could be augmented with complete references and links where possible to the original sources on each article so that readers could dig deeper as they were so inclined. By doing this the organization could even begin to learn in more detail what stories and sources their readers were most interested in and follow up on those with more traditional reporting. This encourages the new media ecosystem which them serves as a valuable tool and resource for the traditional media.

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t have a firm business model for how to support this (how to fund it being a major missing component), but I think I am getting a picture of how these “competing” interests can and should work together.

2 comments for “My Experience as an Example of Old and New Media

  1. September 14, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    I very much like the idea of print editions including something at the end of an article, such as, “Read the full article online at ….” The same method could work in the digital version as well. Put the synopsis article at the main link and then provide a link to the in-depth article. Those that are interested will go to those online more detailed articles.

    I recently read a few pages of a 1909 edition of my local newspaper. It was actually quite humorous. In many ways it reminded me of the blogosphere, complete with innuendo, hearsay, opinion mixed with news, partial truths, and blatant inaccuracies. Today’s version of the paper still includes some of these same features, but it is cleansed and couched in the phraseology of modern journalism. It’s much more subtle and not nearly as bold as the old fashioned stuff.

    It makes me wonder what the “new media” will be like a few decades from now.

  2. September 15, 2009 at 8:23 am

    The idea of showing a summary, a headline, or a teaser and then providing a way to drill down to whatever those in the audience want would make much better use of the communication technology that we have in place rather than wasting resources pushing the same one-sided conversation that was once the best that technology could enable.

    I’m sure that in a few decades there will be no meaningful difference between the new media and the old media (unless by “new media” then we are referring to things that have not even been invented now).

Comments are closed.