Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How to please all of the people all of the time: News in a post-mass media age

I've grown up with the 6pm and 10pm TV news. It's hard for me to imagine a world without it. And perhaps there will always be enough common shared interest between people for this bastion of the broad to remain. Perhaps.
Broadcast - and news aimed-at-all as part of that - works on the premise that you can't please all of the people all of the time. So you try to please as many as you can, for as much of the time as you are able. That's broadcast, that's mass media.
But in a world of digitised, disaggregated content, the available response to an individual's requirements means they can be pleased all of the time. The networked model the internet provides means all of the people can be pleased all of the time.
The question for media companies is: Where is the news team which can serve this long tail of individual demand?
Answer: All around us - in the form of user generated content - communities of co-creators pulled together by their shared interests.
So what we used to call news needs to be redefined. I'll have a stab:

News is:
1. Personalised, real time, community-created, shared information.
2. Best gathered at the point of inspiration (on that handy converged device - the mobile)
3. Best distributed to the point of need (and, taking advantage of the always on, always with you nature of that same converged device, that's best served by mobile, too).

...which is just another reason why creating platforms, not content, should be the primary focus of media companies.

See Also: End of the retreat: How media is the new business model

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?