“Kansas, Kansas, Kansas”

Richard Sambrook is the Director of BBC Global News and on his blog “SacredFacts” he is trying to suggest that there isn’t a power struggle going on between “old media” and “new media” but that

It’s about integration, not subsititution…

Richard, what is your rationale for saying it isn’t a power struggle? I can only think of three reasons why you would say that.

1. You don’t believe there is a desire, on behalf of audiences, to have more power over the media they consume.

2. You don’t believe any “power struggle” will succeed because “old media” is just too big, politically protected and cashed up for “the people” to take power away from it.

3. Or… You do believe people want it, you do believe they will try succeed to taking it… but because you work for the old guard you’re just hoping that if you keep your eyes closed, and say “Kansas, Kansas, Kansas” over and over again while clicking your heels, it will all just go away?

I think the RIAA tried that over the last ten years but maybe they didn’t have the right fairy dust?

Trust me when I tell you, Richard, that there is a power struggle going on. We, the people, want more control over our media than we currently have. That is a power struggle. We are going to take it (control) away from big media companies. Whether we take it partly away or entirely away remains to be seen. But ten years from now, you will have less power and we will have more. Unless you are willingly going to give it up, I’d say that meets every definition of a struggle.

Meanwhile, over on Mark Fletcher’s “Australian Newsagency Blog”, my radio sparring partner from earlier this week, James Farmer, is trotting out the tired old rationale that:

theage.com.au is the number one News & Info publisher in Victoria – the smh.com.au in NSW. The vast majority of people come to a few sites to get their media fix, listen to a few radio stations, watch a few tv channels and read a few publications…

The problems with this line of thinking are multiple.

1. Australia newspaper circulation is in massive decline. See my earlier posts on this for the facts. Even if the owners of these papers have been able to begin to translate their old print readership into online traffic, it is well known that they don’t make nearly as much money online as they on from print. So their revenues are going to take a battering. As their revenues decline, they have to continue making cut-backs, as Australian print, TV and radio news networks have already experienced over the last decade. As they cut back their news staff, they rely more and more on Reuters and AAP feeds which are undifferentiated everyone else’s. As their unique content declines, do will readership and revenue.

2. What empirical data do you have, James, to suggest that “The vast majority of people come to a few sites to get their media”? Have you asked the majority? Did you poll them? Or are you just assuming that is what they want to do because that is what they have always done? That’s like saying people of 18th century Europe didn’t want democracy because they had always had Monarchs.

3. Even if you are right and people *do* want a few sites to get their media from, what Darwin-Given right does Fairfax or News Corp or Channel Nine have to be the sites they get their media from? Why won’t they want to get their media from Google? Or from TPN? Or from Gnoos?

We have not yet begun to fight.

3 thoughts on ““Kansas, Kansas, Kansas”

  1. Isn’t it annoying that one has to state the bloody obvious time after time.
    In my opinion there is ONE undebatable statistic which cements the fact that “old media” is going to die and “new media” is progressing so fast it is too hard to even define. That statistic is the exponential growth of the internet…….PERIOD !

    Mark Fletcher represents the newsagents of Australia and for that reason he cannot, will not and, if he wants to maintain his funding, must not suggest anything other than the continuance of people having their news and media fix delivered to them by way of a newspaper.

    I simply cannot imagine today’s 15 year old going into a newsagent for anything other than a packet of lifesavers or a recharge card for his mobile phone.

    Let’s look at the “blog boom” over the last 2 years. If blogging hasn’t weakend the power of the elite journos of Fairfax, News and co then I’m just imagining things. Once upon a time these elite, pompous, over educated dickheads could get away with anything. Not Now !!!!! The minute they give us their poorly researched or blatently one sided stories the internet shoots them down in a cloud of truth inspired smoke.

    I remember a recent story written about Alan Jones (the 2GB broadcaster) by Fairfax journo (and rival broadcaster) Mike Carlton. It was a damning piece full of spite and reaking of sour grapes. Did he get away with it? No siree. He got attacked from all sides and I think is still ducking for cover. Where did the attacks come from? Duhhhhhh the internet I think or for your benifit Mark “new media”.

    If you are one of those people who simply measure success by $’s, have a look at the growth of online advertising budgets againts the decline of “old media” spending.

    Is “old media” going to die? I don’t think so but I belive it’s looking around for a nice retirement home by the sea.

    The fact that Mark and many other “pro old media” supporters use the internet to broadcast their views pretty much defeats their own arguement.

  2. Well, nice try to box me into one of three “rationales” – none of which will stand up. But none of them represents my view. I don’t doubt the impact of new media and believe it is without question a force for good – and have said so many times. The public have far more say and control over media and public debate; “old media” are being forced to be more transparent and accountable. But if anyone thinks the TV networks and the New York Times are about to disappear and we will all be happy with our RSS feeds or digg.com they are living in a fantasy world. That’s why it’s about integration. Social media, citizen journalism will enrich and improve the media – but will exist alongside mass media for a long time to come. Will things be the same in ten years? Of course not. Any media organisation can only survive if it serves the needs of its audience or the public and as those needs and expectations change, so will the media adapt to meet them. The great news for all of us is the choice and ability to participate that the internet has opened up will mean the future is better than the past. But the idea that there is some titanic “us v them” stuggle going on to bring down the barricades is a heroic fantasy that has little to do with the way the world works.

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