PressThink’s Jay Rosen blogs about an all star roundtable at The Museum of Television and Radio concerning the future of Big Media and blogs….
“The bloggers were the usual suspects who write about the issue of blogging, journalism and the media,” said David Weinberger, who was there. “The MSM folks were high-level execs at the usual suspect TV and print mainstream news organizations.” True. (We weren’t a representative group of bloggers, either. No one from the cultural right, no minorities, only a handful of women, no one in his or her 20s. Apply whatever discount rate you wish.)
The ground rules prevented quoting without permission, a condition I don’t like and would never request, but some of the big executives need the cover, so we do it that way. You have the cast of characters. Here’s what I heard:
I didn’t sense any sign of panic from the bosses or the migrating pros. They’re cautious in making statements about the future, but pretty confident they’ve got a handle on the Web. They enjoy reminding each other—and you—about the illusions that spread during the first Net boom (1995-2000), implying that a similar fever has overtaken some people now.
No one doubts the news business will eventually migrate to a new platform on the Net. In the meantime, the traditional model—including trucking the newspaper to people—is a big business with sound cash flow. It’s foolish to think it will soon expire. Yes, a new foundation is emerging. For now, the old structures remain because they bring in the money the Web cannot. This isn’t like the tech industry where market position can melt away in a year if you don’t innovate.
Still, it was agreed: Big Media does not know how to innovate. What capacity for product development do news organizations show? Zip. How are they on nurturing innovation? Terrible. Is there an entreprenurial spirit in newsrooms? No. Do smart young people ever come in and overturn everything? Never. Do these firms attract designers and geeks who are gifted with technology? They don’t, because they don’t do anything challenging enough. They don’t innovate, or pay well. So they can’t compete.
The blogosphere tends to be seen as a collection of individual blogs, each unedited, each without “standards” (although some are very good.) Therefore the ‘sphere as a whole is weak on verification, and so Big Media retains a crucial advantage. (Says Big Media.) Other attempts to explain how open source methods can be highly effective—Wikipedia for example—do not seem to have made any impression.
Even so, Big Media knows it has to change. To stand pat is not a credible position. The market will not be there. Lots of experimentation is going on, or due soon as Web intergration becomes more of a reality. Paul Steiger in his closing notes: “The world has really, really changed and will keep changing and we in mainstream media may not like it but it’s a fact and we have to embrace it or we will die.”