Media 2.0 101: The technology beat isn’t optional

the technology beatI’m going to leave the world of technology for a bit today to talk “about” the world of technology, because I think media companies are missing a big, ongoing story, simply because we’re a part of it. An entirely new media industry has birthed, blossomed and produced fruit within the last 15 years, and its coverage area has expanded to the point where mass media companies have no choice but to get onboard. I’m referring to tech media and its grip on information about the most amazing phenomenon of the new age.

We view technology only as a way to make our jobs easier, but that’s a little like putting electric lights on a ship designed to hunt whales for the lantern oil industry. Technology is far more than “our” tools; it’s the biggest story to come along since the printing press, yet we somehow manage to either completely or mostly ignore it.

This is vastly oversimplified, but tech media began as a way for certain geeks to inform other geeks about innovations in technology that might interest them. This spawned an immense field of geek celebrities, such as Robert Scoble, Michael Arrington, Nick Denton and a host of others, and produced some real winners in terms of new media companies, like TechCrunch, Gawker, and thousands of specialized blogs. Tech media is also producing hybrid news and information models, like Duncan Riley’s The Inquistr, an eclectic blend of news that shouts “relevance” to its audience. The Inquistr includes sports stories, celebrity gossip and other mainstream items, which is to say that it crosses over into more of a mass media model with a proclivity towards technology.

News about technology now impacts people far beyond its original intent. And as we watch device after device and technology after technology cross the magical 50% threshold in terms of consumer adoption, it’s crystal clear that the demand for this kind of news and information is headed up, up, up. Do I buy from Apple or Microsoft? Is the iPad worth Apple’s restrictions? And what about my smartphone? What to believe, is the issue, and, even more importantly, who to believe.

Technology is a beat that moves with the speed of light, leaving magazines that used to own the niche struggling in the collective dust of online organizations that are nimble, fleet-of-foot, flexible and adaptive. Even its TV commercials emphasize the point that today’s state-of-the-art is tomorrow’s relic. And then there’s the money involved. Telecoms spend a fortune trying to hook customers into this contract or that one, because so much is at stake. Cable and satellite TV companies are on edge, as TV is now delivered “over the top” (OTT) directly to consumers. News is available at the fingertips of anybody, and traditional media companies are on the wrong end of innovation.

This has all led to what I view as an industrywide ignorance about what’s taking place, and this is fatal in terms of delivering news and information that’s relevant to people. What’s relevant? Technology! And yet, we don’t consider it to be our task. This has to stop, because there really is a lot at stake for readers and viewers and potential readers and viewers in this arena.

What kinds of HDTVs, for example, do TV station engineers use and why? Don’t you think that knowledge might be something that those shopping for HDTVs might want to know? What about cameras, etc? My colleague, Ken Elmore, produces a weekly segment for our newsletter called “Tools of the Trade,” and every week I say to myself, you know, everyday people would be interested in this, too.

Why are we so silent about a beat that impacts so many people in so many ways? I think it’s because we’re smack dab in the middle of it. We’re being disrupted by it, and our need to play defense blinds us from the common sense we need to aggressively go after this kind of news and information. We need to spend time studying the comments of stories posted in tech media, or spend a day just looking at comments of Robert Scoble’s massive following on Google+.

The lions of the tech industry — people like Steve Jobs of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, or Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google — make enormous impact whenever they open their mouths, and yet I’d wager you’d find that most people in a typical newsroom don’t know who they are. New product launchings are BIG news, and covered by tech media with the same enthusiasm and resources of a Presidential news conference. And rightly so!

Where are we during these events? We’re getting video of the traffic accident up the street or interviewing some poor victim of a horrible tragedy somewhere else. Why? We ignore what’s important to people in the name of doing things as we’ve always done them. This makes no sense.

If you want your local media company to find relevance with the people you hope to serve, you’re going to have to start viewing their lives from their perspective and not your own. Technology is THE story today, so much so that many very smart people are calling this “the second Gutenberg wave” or something similar. Imagine that? It’s an actual turning point in the history of the West, and we’re nowhere to be found in covering it while it’s actually happening.

Gutenberg got a similar treatment back in the 15th Century from the Roman Catholic Church, because only THEY could publish the Bible. Wouldn’t you know that an upstart group of people would actually USE Gutenberg’s invention to swat such nonsense into reality. The same thing is happening today, only we have the chance to be smart about it rather than end up in the waste heap of what’s left behind.

Technology IS the news in the 21st Century. Please. Jump in with both feet.

Comments

  1. How is that who concept of a tv station web site as a blog site working out?

    Not so well… this is the second time your shitty ass has been dumped by sites that have gone back to worldnow (after your terrible plans ruined them)

    How u call yourself a consultant is a farce

  2. Today’s man is surrounded in the trap of technologies that are going towards more advancement and common people have no time to think ….they just use new media tech websites to gather knowledge and share with their friends……thats it..

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