The Media 140 Conference in Sydney has offered a vast amount of food for thought my brain is buzzing with ideas, issues and concerns.
The first thing that struck me was the level of fear and fear-mongering by some of the print journalists on day one. For example in the session titled How Social Media is Changing Political Reporting Caroline Overington and Chris Uhlmann both seemed close to arguing that the end of the free world as we know it is nigh should one of the major east coast newspapers in Australia fail.
There seemed to be little idea amongst these panelists that changing media platforms might reinvigorate media and create new revenue or career opportunities.
This notion that unless “proper journalism”, that is journalism as we have known it since the mid-late nineteenth century as practised by employees of the great media barons, exists then no valuable news will exist seems odd.
When one considers why news came to be produced in that particular way in that particular time it seems clear that technology and cost constraints prohibited new entrants to the news creation and sharing market.
However today those barriers to entry are rapidly disappearing and ordinary people are creating their own news. But, while the need for professional production facilities is diminishing, there seems to be ample space for journalists and news organisations to explore business models based on aggregation, curation and clarification of issues and perspectives.
Caroline Overington also discussed the News Ltd plan to charge for content. It will be interesting to see their plan and how it unfolds. My experience indicates that online micropayments are not as easy to use and intuitive as they need to be for mass adoption. Also the nature of the content must be compelling enough on a continual basis for people to subscribe.
Amusingly at the same time as Ms Overington was delivering her apologia for News Ltd they announced a revenue slump of 4.1%.