Where Is the Heritage Media?

Not long ago, I blogged about the need for the traditional media (I won’t call them “mainstream” anymore, because they are slipping so badly) to tap into what the federal government is doing in terms of embracing Web 2.0 tools and culture. Sadly, the legacy media is showing itself to be even more hidebound than that behemoth bureacracy. I’ve been immersing myself in Twitter, which I believe is a revolutionary technology that will grow lightening fast as mobile broadband expands around the world. The Twitter culture is a bit difficult to grasp, as nearly every “expert” has a slightly different take. However, it seems a natural place for old media to gets it sea legs and try out new ways of doing business.

They aren’t doing a very good job of it, though, that I can see. Please, correct me in the comments, because I may just not be trying hard enough, but what I see is that technologists and PR and marketing people are running on the bobbing Twitter decks while heritage media is scarcely to be found. Tech journos like @scobleizer and @mediaphyter are doing just fine, but the only press person I’ve found truly thriving in this 2.0 culture so far is @johnabyrne, who no doubt as editor of a business mag can see the writing on the wall.

Tell me I’m wrong, or tell me why Twitter isn’t the perfect place for notebook dumps. If I was still doing political journalism, I’d be on Twitter even more than I am now, and that’s a lot.

6 thoughts on “Where Is the Heritage Media?

  1. Media people seemed even more terrified than government to adapt to all the changes bringing them down… there are some signs of hope, with online sites adding comments and sharing mechanisms to act in a sort of pseudo-Web2.0 way.

    But for the most part, the changes haven’t been embraced the way they should.

    They should absolutely be using social media tools at their disposal to start gaining back the trust of the people who have increasingly become skeptics over the years… I think the problem lies in education systems as much as the practice itself. New grads aren’t even adept yet to all the online sources of news that have become legitimized by necessity – and that necessity is timeliness… the “24-hour news cycle” has become an instantaneous news stream, and Twitter-like sources are breaking news stories every day…

    This is not to say a well-written and well-edited news story doesn’t have its place, but it needs to adapt. Articles are old news, but not irrelevant. I like Huffington’s take on this: New and Old media good for each other: http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSTRE4AR3FM20081128.

  2. Adriel – this is something I’ve been wondering. Journalists are the original news and information distributors. They make a living spending their time researching and finding nuggets of info.

    I’m looking forward to the day when the heritage media recognizes the roles of reporters and has them streaming the bits of news and observations out to a wider audience.

    People will still want to read the longer-form, well-sourced and edited articles as well. The engagement via Twitter and other social media becomes a set-up for that. This was something I wrote about a few weeks back, A Promising Future for Newspapers (http://bhc3.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/a-promising-future-for-newspapers/).

    And BTW – saw your post via a tweet by @mediaphyter

  3. Fine and timely post, Adriel.

    This discussion is eerily (or perhaps amusingly) reminiscent of the revelation in October ‘08 that virtually none of the PR WEEK “Power 25″ were even on Twitter. Zip. Zilch. None. (See: http://bit.ly/uH91)

    This is noteworthy, since the PRSA’s 2007 International Conference in Philadelphia (over 1 year ago) was chock full of our fellow Social Media pros leading many of the breakout sessions. (I attended but didn’t present.)

    Obviously, there’s a wealth of talented, accomplished and forward thinking PR practitioners well-represented on Twitter. You know the names. Too many to add here.

    I for one would be interested in insights into the seeming parallels between the “heritage” PR community, and their woefully behind-the-curve media brethren.

  4. Thanks for the comments, all. Giving me lots of ideas and also new people to follow. This post is the most popular on my blog these days.
    Two folks I should mention, @cdorobek, who does great 2.0 work for Federal News Radio, and a new peep, @ellmcgirt from Fast Company, whose article on Cisco gave me a great current events hook for a recent book review. Both are great follows. (Would note, in support of my points above, that both – esp. Ellen – are not classic heritage media folks, a term I use mainly to describe newspapers.)

  5. Thanks for your kind comments. Social media is certainly part of traditional media’s future, and it’s clearly a tool to transform journalism from a product, handed down to the masses as if tablets by journalists who don’t really care about their audience, to a process that embraces that audience at every level from idea generation to the conversation that follows the story. But it’s not the only answer. Sadly, the underlying economics of our business have been so thoroughly disrupted that nothing less than radical transformation is necessary to allow us to succeed in the future. Nonetheless, allowing the outside in and the inside out and understanding that the very best journalism today can benefit greatly from intimate involvement with its audience is essential to our future.

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