The Washington Post today had a telling article by Patricia Sullivan entitled As the Internet Grows Up, the News Industry Is Forever Changed. This article describes the dynamics of the impacts of digital media on traditional print and televised journalism from the perspective of mainstream journalism. An industry perspective.
This article does an excellent job of describing how mainstream media views the encroachment of other forms of information dissemination. Blogs, talk radio, etc. And it posits that mainstream media will have to "adapt or die." Which may or may not be true.
Patricia and other journalists look at the impact of CNN on the televised news industry and the impact of blogs on all news and see the immediacy - the speed at which information can be distributed. They are threatened by the speed. But the speed is only relevant if the product is worth getting quickly. My post yesterday shows that there are problems with mainstream media - but it's still more fact-checked than blogs or talk radio are. Or at least that's the perception.
Patricia mourns the passing of a variety of news vehicles, among them the News Magazine. Not hardly. What's happened is not that need for Sixty Minutes is dead, but that the need for Sixty Minutes has expanded. Wake up CBS, a Sixty Minutes stand alone web site, investigating things, putting up streaming video, inviting blogging comment / support, providing a vehicle for community interaction is a freaking gold mine!
Right now, www.sixtyminutes.com is owned by a cybersquatter who must be slightly smarter than CBS. This is the easy to type and remember Sixty Minutes URL http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml It is a "show" subordinate to the CBS News web site.
They have podcasts and RSS feeds but they don't engage. They are still trying to feed us.
Technology has driven behavioral changes, as reporters, producers, photographers and editors learn that interactivity in the form of e-mail, blogs, polls, hyperlinks, Videologs, podcasts and news delivered via cell phones can open their work up to a newer and bigger audience, for better or worse. It's far easier for a reader to find a reporter now than it was in the past; it's also easier for a story published overseas or in a local or regional outlet to have a bigger impact. No longer are readers or viewers bound by network broadcast schedules, the delivery of a newspaper or magazine or the top-of-the-hour radio headlines.
Here we see an understanding about reach and resources. People can reach out and gather resources from everywhere. Information is immediate and accessible. For certain articles the Washington Post still makes people create a "free" account and log-in. Many newspapers don't seem to understand that their product isn't of individual value. It is, however, of massive value as part of the information stream.
In order to gain readership in this world, you need to be relevant and part of the conversation. People no longer want to just be drizzled information to. They participate. A vast vast majority will only read and move on. But that's all they did with the paper before. Many "subscribers" to newspapers merely let their papers collect in the yard before they send them off to the landfill.
Mainstream media needs to understand that it is possible to remain part of a community, but still objective. They also need to understand that objectivity is never absolute and that they will get called out for lapses or exposed to alternative points of view. The difference is that now a letter of praise or rebuttal is much easier to write. That may be seen as letting every crackpot have a voice - but it can also been seen as giving people the ability to really discuss things.
Mainstream media's attempts to hold on to purely push technology are understandable, as this is easier to commoditize. But I'll bet if CBS News hired Robert Scoble to run the Sixty Minutes web site - it would be quoted every day, twenty million times a day, around the world. It would become the single most influential investigative journalism vehicle since ... Sixty Minutes. And you can surely monitize that.