Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

The sound of change

Posted on | August 27, 2010 | 1 Comment

You can kind of hear it in the wind, the sound of change in publishing. The cacophonous clanking of consolidation continues to be sure, but if you listen closely enough there’s music in the distance.

Howard Kurtz points at, what I think is, one of the drivers of change in his post earlier this week on the stampeding media herd. Urgency and bombast rule the day right now and no one’s really happy about it.

…the media crowd doesn’t stick around long enough to do more than stomp around. There was a furious argument over Obama giving General Motors a $50 billion bailout; now that the company is profitable and preparing a stock offering, the herd is MIA.

Amid noise, people tend to seek quiet or at least a volume dial. We may beginning to understand that overstimulation, made soooo easy today, is not good for us. The New York Times cites research that suggests we should be thinking about finding downtime and distance to process stimulation properly.

People are starting to get angry at the lack of context and insight media is delivering.

  • Television is a complete and utter waste of time and bandwidth.
  • Not everyone has all day to search out the expert blog post to explain just why the BP oil rig failed.
  • Text news organizations are just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, and everything’s sliding to the floor.

But consider the rise of e-reader platforms, such as Kindle and iPad. Sure they represent more gadgets, more distraction. But particularly with the iPad, the platform represents:

  • A way to improve the digital reading experience in phenomenal ways. (See the Pedlar Lady iPad app as an example).
  • Monetize content with a better value proposition.

Engaging with the Web online is essentially an exercise in distraction. You jump on with a specific information-gathering objective in mind and suddenly you’ve wandered far afield, down endless  and seemingly interesting (stimulating) rat holes. If you’re like me, pretty soon you’ve forgotten the very important reason you jumped online.

A platform such as the iPad is a walled garden in the good sense of the phrase, potentially limiting distraction as it presents content in ever-compelling ways that keep reader attention.

If the reader experience changes from constant stimulation to more measured engagement, then publishing should be able to value that experience. Value that experience, and the journalistic product should improve.

That’s the theory at least.

What do you think?

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One Response to “The sound of change”

  1. Siliconcowboy
    August 27th, 2010 @ 9:04 am

    I think that the days of newspaper publishing, where an editorial board decides what news you should see and how, are coming to an end. Not because they don’t do it well, but because new technology will do it better…and on the readers’ terms.

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