…For journalism, the technological platform has usually led and the profession has followed. Radio required pioneers like Norman Corwin and Edward R. Murrow to invent the genre of radio news storytelling. A similar evolution took place with television news. With TV and radio, however, the technological platform was protected by a tight regulatory framework government-issued broadcast licenses that limited competition and slowed innovation. That might have been bad for the consumer, but it was great for the news business.
The big differences today are the speed of change and the investment required on the news side to keep up. Anyone who has labored at a newspaper over the past decade knows that most newsrooms are still struggling to balance the 24-hour nature of the web with the process-heavy workflow of producing a daily print product. Reporters spend most of their time trying to meet a 4 p.m. print copy deadline, instead of producing fluid stories for web readers.
Only a handful of news organizations try to produce news that fits well into the 4-inch screen of a mobile phone, even though most data indicates that’s where the majority of news consumption will take place.
Read the full piece at PBS.
Generally this is an interesting piece by Gabriel Kahn for MediaShift.
But it goes terrible astray in its trend analysis, summarized with the subhede “Content follows technology.” Not really. Even the example given, how paperbacks became pocket-sized when soliders went off to war, misses the obvious point in claiming that “New formats drive new business models.” That kind of thinking is why media waste so much money on new formats.
It is not about taking advantage of the new format. It’s really about taking advantage of the lifestyle changes and decisions of people who decide to adopt the new format. If people don’t take to the tech, or use it in certain ways, there is nothing to go after no matter what you put into that format. Pocket-sized paperback books aren’t anything that couldn’t have been produced years before. It was the fact of 16 million troops dressed at the time in uniform fatigues with those sized pockets and the desire to have something to read while away from their usual media — that is what made the paperback a success as a format and a publishing technology. Media then come along and get innovative on what to do in that format, perhaps how to expand it.
Following today’s misguided media thinking, someone would have introduced the pocket-sized book and then newspapers, magazines and other content producers would have sunk millions of dollars converting all their content to paperbacks before taking the time to find out what it is that people really want to read in that format and style.