It’s very clear for me that something is wrong in the media industry. Don’t know what, but it’s clear that the confusion is huge. Or is it? Well anyway, too many subjects are talked about at the same time. It’s a mess! Why it is that clever journalist doesn’t see this, after all this is what journalists are trained to see.
Let’s reduse what we are talking about. We are not talking about the film- , music- or the gaming industry, let’s do that another time.
Business or journalism?
We are talking about the newspaper houses today. That is, we are talking aout the owners of newspapers, and the newspaper organizations. But this is also a far too wide discussion. Think of it; that would have been to mix a discussion about the new dramaturgy of a story, because that has changed in the new age of news. And mix that with the topic of business models of news? It’s impossible, isn’t it?
So what to discuss? As long as there is money in the market – the owners of the media houses will remain in the business. Still there are lessons to learn – how to make sure you have sustainable incomes in that business. And as long there is an urge for stories, someone to tell us a “truth” Why do journalists AND media house owners argue that there is a problem? That’s maybe because of the introduction of the internet fifteen years ago, that have lead to new business models, and to new markets. Yes the so called “Social media” is a new marketplace. You see – it’s moved! – And that is the problem, a change that isn’t welcome.
The market It used to be down the street – let’s call it “Mass Media Street”. That was the largest marketplace I’ve ever seen. It was bigger than the camel market in Marrakesh, Bigger than the bazaars in New Dehli and bigger than the cattle auctions in Texas Forth worth! But now Mass Media Street is getting emptier by the hour. They’ve all moved down to the Social Media Quarter. You know it’s really not one market any more. It’s more like small cozy jazz clubs, blues joints and dark night clubs in New Orleans, Stockholm and Casablanca. Smoke is coming out of the door openings. Its dark inside and a very different environment. People are either up- beat or laid back. If you want to shout at them, and tell them the truth, they might choose to listen to you, or not – and continue their conversation with the friends they just met. It’s not like on Mass Media Street anymore. Some find it sad, and some don’t.
The new journalist
No one can adapt the old business models of Mass Media Street any more, and it’s silly to try to pretend to. The owner of media houses knows this, but of various reasons some of them seem to want to hide it. Journalists seem to be the naive ones, since they are buying into this odd idea that they no longer can conduct their trade anymore. A journalist’s trade is to do what they are good at and that is not in danger. The problem is really the business model, and who is going to “own it” And journalists need to accept this fact quickly, or else they will be running the errand of the owner of the media houses. In short Journalists need to focus; The value of their trade is not in danger, if they accept that they will have to adopt to a new reality, where building a storyline is different than before. Now, and into a future a journalists work will have to look at the fact that it’s in a close relationship with everyone. A story develops rapidly and it needs to be published at once, and from there developed, by hours and days, until the story is told. Not as before, where the gathering of a strong story, before publishing was the success criteria. Social media has made that impossible, the competition is not your other clever journalist out there in the dark night club anymore, everyone is clubbing nowadays, so you need to publish while being out there, you need to develop your story online.
A new business line
For the owners of a media house it’s also a new game. They have to realize that their business has changed. The revenue streams have changed and the journalism have changed. The workflow is changed. That means that the way a newsroom is organized have to change. That ends up in a more cost effective production line. Still this will not be enough. The revenue stream will have to be ensured, in an effective way. The business models are available, and the owners, stock holders have to re- think how they believe that their added value will emerge. It’s really not that difficult, they just need to let go of old ideas of how it used to be. We have to remember that any owner of any concept of business have one aim; Earning money, provide a sustainable business model. I believe that from a profit motif the future world is wonderful, but it requires that the stakeholders starts leaving an old environment, and accept a new one. Acceptance for both journalism and business ideas in the media business Mostly it will require accepting what already function. In my eyes a key is the term multi channel thinking. It’s not “old” nor “new” is it a combination. Understanding the “new” is not so difficult, it exist already in the digital environment, so it’s not all that new. Remember what I said, the internet is 15 years old, how to conduct business in a digital environment is well known. Make your business aligned with both the analogue and the digital environment, make sure that your companies focus on added value for the end customer and make sure that you have established a business model that support this. To give a hint –for the business level of things; divide content, and product! There is no such thing as a content of things and product of things that aren’t separated!
For the journalists; There is no such thing as a product, the onlynthing that count in any sense is to be able to tell a story that change someone’s life, no less, no more. My point is that journalism and media house owners might have different objectives. That’s an old model. It’s older that the T-ford, it’s silly , so why keep the differences? Non of us standing out side of it cares, all we want is a well told story , and we have shown for decades that we would like to pay for the value it has – so show me the value, and I’ll show you the money…