Article summary: Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis

In Honours blog on June 7, 2009 at 2:39 am

Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. The Future Is Here, But Do News Media Companies See It?” Winter 2005.

Again, this article is very much related to my topic, but it’s four years old, and the situation they describe is not necessarily the same as today. This article sees journalists as clinging to their old ways, not keen to embrace the internet as the future of their industry. They mention some innovators who see the potential and the actuality of online news, but many aren’t ready to give up the past.

The 90’s put doubt in people’s minds about the impact of the internet, ” But in retrospect, the news media might have completely underestimated the influence of this new medium.” (pg. 6)

“The Internet is a unique phenomenon that has delivered not just technological innovations but become a conduit for change, accelerating the rate, diversity and circulation of ideas. It affects nearly everything from culture to competition. It has also altered the economics of media in two important ways. First, it enables nearly limitless distribution of content for little or no cost. Second, it has potentially put everyone on the planet into the media business, including the sources, businesses, governments and communities newspapers cover.” (pg. 6)

“Add other ingredients—easy-to-use, open-source publishing tools, a generation who finds it more natural to instant message someone than to call, a greater demand for niche information, and a rapidly growing shift of advertising dollars to online media—and you have a recipe for radical change in the news media landscape.” (pg. 6)

“Cost cutting with no investment for the future limits chances of an encore. Only a few exceedingly rare exceptions of online news operations are profitable, such as The Wall Street Journal, but most are still unwilling to engage in a different relationship with their audience.” (pg. 6) This is a good point, how can an industry grow and develop when budgets are being slashed and people are getting fired?

Consultant and media critic Jeff Jarvis frames it this way: “The Number One lesson of the Internet, whether you’re Howard Dean or a media company or a marketer, is that you have to give up control to gain control.”” (pg. 6)

“The audience is now an active, important participant in the creation and dissemination of news and information, with or without the help of mainstream news media.” (pg 7)

“With great trepidation and reluctance, mainstream media are beginning to learn how to evolve their business from an authoritarian “top-down” approach to integrate and report on user-generated news, as well as establish ways to collaborate meaningfully with their audience. However, they still have trouble letting go of control.” (pg. 7)

“According to Alexa, Internet users are twice as likely to visit Wikipedia as The New York Times.” (pg. 8)

“Citizens are interested in participating and contributing to subjects that traditional news outlets ignore or do not often cover.” (pg. 8)

” Podcasting, the creation and distribution of audio recording online, went from the fringe to the mainstream in about 18 months.” (pg. 8) Things change rather fast nowadays don’t they?

Podcasts show that amateurs can gain mindshare in a new medium as, or more effectively than, pros.” (pg. 8)

“Citizen journalism continues to be an evolving and frustrating concept for mainstream media. It offers the tantalizing idea of an active and engaged democracy better informing itself. It also can represent an evolving and reckless endeavor that might result in just the opposite.” (pg. 9)

Here are some predictions for the future the authors included. Enough time has passed since this was published to see that some of these have come true.

“…mainstream media will more tightly integrate citizen content with the core news offerings…The mobile internet will proliferate…more professional journalists will begin to blog…Authority will continue to shift from once trusted institutions to communities or individuals who have earned credibility though hard-won public discourse and will directly impact news media…expect media organizations to take a leadership role in educating its audience in becoming better news creators,” (pg. 9).

“Citizen media represents not the end of journalism or news media companies but a shift in where value is being created. In the traditional broadcast model, value was created solely by the newspaper or TV station. In the future, more of the value will come from creating an infrastructure for citizen participation and nurturing trusted communities.” (pg. 10)

“Both eBay and Google show that there is great value to be created if you are willing to embrace a different role in the value creation process.” (pg. 10)

“Sambrook says the BBC’s role is shifting from broadcaster and mediator to facilitator, enabler and teacher. “We don’t own the news anymore. Our job is to make connections with and between different audiences,” he said.” (pg. 10)

This is a relevant paper for my research, but I’m worried it’s already too out of date. I want more sources from 2008 and even 2009 ideally.


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