Missing the point

The noise from the status quo is getting louder as the encroaching disruption of Media 2.0 (Reynolds’ “Triumph of personal technology over mass technology”) continues to whack away at its fatted calf.

In what is essentially a pretty fair story on the matter as it relates to newspapers, Robert Manor of the Chicago Tribune includes these remarkable quotes:

Some newspaper executives see the movement of news content to the Internet as a threat.

“I think there is tremendous concern, especially if we are not being compensated,” said Mike Fancher, executive editor of The Seattle Times.

“Search engines essentially want to use our content to gather a larger audience,” Fancher said. “They are destroying our business model.”

Owen Youngman, vice president of development for the Chicago Tribune, said Google users come to think of Google as the news source and overlook the newspaper that published the story.

“Our brands are taking a back seat to the aggregators,” Youngman said. “Those of us who edit and write need to maintain the value of what we produce.”

Why guys like Youngman don’t see that they could get into the aggregator business too is beyond me. The story goes on to note the obvious — that the newspaper websites that serve up the stories found in aggregators do get compensation from advertising when users click through, but here’s the key paragraph:
All news Web sites can charge for advertising, but, unlike traditional newspapers, few Web sites can get away with charging the reader.
Newspapers, you see, have always been able to have it both ways — charge to read AND muck up the reading with advertising, all in the name of paying for the journalism. The personal media revolution, however, screws up that argument by lowering the barriers to entry to practically nothing, and the industry is crying “foul.”

Meanwhile, the record industry — those bastions of fair play — are pushing to set aside the 99-cent model for song downloads in favor of variable pricing based, at least in part, on the newness of the tune. They’re even suggesting that Apple give them a cut of iPod sales, something Steve Jobs calls plain old greed.

Over at CBSeye, the editor offers a piece by Samuel Freedman of the Columbia Journalism School in which he announces that he finds the citizen media movement “troubling.”

Citizen journalism does not merely challenge the notion of professionalism in journalism but completely circumvents it. It is journalism according to the ethos of indie rock ‘n’ roll: Do It Yourself.

For precisely such reasons, I despair over the movement’s current cachet. However wrapped in idealism, citizen journalism forms part of a larger attempt to degrade, even to disenfranchise journalism as practiced by trained professionals.

You can actually feel the disdain and animosity dripping off the nose from which he’s looking downward.
To treat an amateur as equally credible as a professional, to congratulate the wannabe with the title “journalist,” is only to further erode the line between raw material and finished product. For those people who believe that editorial gate-keeping is a form of censorship, if not mind control, then I suppose the absence of any mediating intelligence is considered a good thing.
This argument, it seems, will never end, and as long as there are “experts,” I guess that’s to be expected.

These are all examples of Media 1.0 missing the point that Media 2.0 is really all about opportunity. The problem is that if you’re too busy defending your old model, you’ll never see what’s coming as the land of opportunity; you’ll only be able to see things that are getting in your way — keeping you from (usually) the profitability you used to know.

Steve Hall of Adrants moved away from his usual salacious and witty self over the weekend to deliver what I think is a very important essay on preparations to load mySpace with advertising. Do yourself a favor and go read it, if you haven’t already. Steve’s a bright guy who really understands what’s taking place, and he nails it here:

Because News Corp. is salivating over the potential millions in ad revenue advertisers eager to reach 60 odd million MySpace members may dump in its lap, the company is cleaning up MySpace, removing racy profiles and “offensive” images. It may all be for not as teens and twenty something will likely say “screw it” to News Corp’s attempts at cleanliness and move to other social media spaces or create ones none of us has heard of yet. MySpace became a guerrilla overnight. It could fail overnight too. These days, it’s too easy for people to gravitate to a place where they feel comfortable rather than put up with corporate censorship simply to please advertisers. It’s the advertisers who will have to adjust rather than the corporations.
Similarly, youTube is beginning to feel the possibilities of cashing out in a sale that would likely produce a similar problem for the new owners. YouTube is wild, dirty and free, but a competitor, Revver, is controlled, clean and legal. Will Revver or a “legal” youTube do the same kind of traffic that the current youTube does?

In every case cited here, we see the command and control grip of top-down business models rising to claim its place as the logical formula for making money in the burgeoning Media 2.0 marketplace. Where we can’t complain it to death, we’ll smother it with rules and regulations, but that will only further the resolve of the disruption and keep us swatting at specks instead of embracing the whole and creating new business models. If we don’t do the latter, we’re simply encouraging those who aren’t bound by our blindness to reinvent things that’ll leave us out in the cold completely.

Steve Hall says it’s the advertisers who will have to adjust rather than the corporations, but I think both need adjustment.

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