Old media fights the new for audience share

May 3, 2006

Woman Reading Paper on TubeSpeakers at We Media differed in their view of who would survive the digital revolution, but all agreed that the transition would be a bumpy ride.How traditional media companies act will decide whether they manage to survive the transition into the digital economy, key speakers at We Media¬† said.According to Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, the move onto the internet was disruptive, but the next shift online will be “very profound and very challenging”. He said:”We are seeing a second digital wave that’s far more profound and disruptive than the first wave, into a world where the media audience moves effortlessly from device to device. The old idea of broadcasters assuming that the right of the audience is to sit there and take it and be grateful for it is over.””There are people working in our industry who still don’t have computers and mobiles and imagine that these are the possessions of a few anoraks in Western society. In fact, you can drive for hours across Africa to get to water yet see many people there with mobile phones.”Timothy Balding, director-general of the World Association of Newspapers, agreed, and admitted that newspaper proprietors had to step up to the challenge.He said: “The web revolution has been a salutary kick up the pants for newspaper companies. They have been conservative, complacent and had the market to themselves. They were slow to take up the challenge but it’s well underway now. Newspaper websites are among the most consulted sites in most markets. some have really captured the blogging market too.”Asha Oberoi, director of multi-media product development at the Telegraph Group, publishers of The Daily Telegraph newspaper, insisted that newspapers were not sitting still. She added: “We’re fighting back, becoming a multi-media organisation. We’re a real threat and can do exciting new forms of content. We are working hard to see how we can build on what we are already doing. I think people should be afraid of print organisations. We have readers’ trust, we have got so much going for us in the opinion stakes. If we can leverage that into the multi-media world we will be very powerful beasts.”The BBC’s Mark Thompson said that the emergence of citizen journalists, bloggers and other forms of media would require traditional media players to change the way they operate. He said: “The media which used to be conveniently shaped by us into not quite one-size-fits-all in different chunks for lage groups is going to change. It’s going to be shaped in communities by them. To me, the challenge for us is how to play a useful and effective role as enablers.”Nikesh Arora, vice-president of European operations at Google, questioned whether old media companies can embrace the new without it affecting their core values. He explained: “Today old media stands for certain things. The challenge is whether the BBC or any old media organisation tries to embrace citizen journalism. It is very difficult to do that and ensure your brand is not affected by it. The moment you try to edit it they’ll start screaming that this is an old beast trying to stop what I’m doing.”


I do agree that some of the old media is making some good moves, but they have been late to the game.

The current climate of the Internet is more of a challenge to them as the majority of users don’t ‘trust’ them as much as they claim.

Yet with a new demographic slowly getting on board the Internet wave, they may be more prone to use traditional media than the current users.


Late to the game or not – they can come in whenever they want.

Money fixes everything! And “they” have lots of it.


The most profound line of this article to me is:

“The old idea of broadcasters assuming that the right of the audience is to sit there and take it and be grateful for it is over.”

It has become an “I get to chose what I want to see and hear” world, folks.

I’m excited about the possibilities of the next decade in information technology.