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Old, new media must learn to get along

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Uploaded on Oct 21, 2010

Indaily reporter DANIELLE FORTHSYTH -- a member of the Twitterati -- attended Advantage SA's Meet the Media forum yesterday at the Nova Cinema to gauge how 'old media' is coping with the new:

MAINSTREAM and social media have an interesting relationship. One is a little scared the other is going to eat it alive, desperate to make friends and prove it's still relevant; while the other takes great delight in bullying or turning up its nose at the older cousin.
The mainstream's paranoia is probably overblown and social media's arrogance is possibly premature.

Newspapers survived radio which survived TV which survived VCRs and YouTube, so they'll all survive Twitter and probably whatever comes after that too.

That said, everyone at yesterday's Advantage SA Meet the Media forum was well aware that changes would have to be made.
Between panellists Graham Archer (Today Tonight), Megan Lloyd (Sunday Mail) and Des Ryan (Indaily) there was the full gamut of anxiety, despondence, confusion, curiosity and excitement, often all at the same time.

The mainstream media are losing readers and advertising dollars as customised, convenient and niche sources keep arising (such as Indaily).

It's the clich├ęd brave new world -- more people are getting their news via their mobile phone than their desktop -- a world that is scaring the people who liked the old world, thank you very much.

Mainstream media have been a little slow to catch on to social media and it didn't take the Twitterati long to poke fun at the panellists, or for a glaring gap to be realised.

As Ryan pointed out, the discussion badly lacked a "tech-head". The people threatening journalism as we know it aren't citizen journalists, they're software engineers.

Apple's Steve Jobs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and the crew behind Twitter are the ones changing the way we all interact with the world around us, and there'll be another new mob any second with something completely different again.

While most of the panel said they used social media for finding stories, testing ideas and attracting an audience, eyes quickly lifted from iPads when Archer said Facebook was still blocked to Today Tonight staff and he confessed to be bemused by its usefulness apart from research.

A reference to Myspace (who remembers that?) by another panellist we'll forgive as a slip of the tongue.
Of course, it wasn't long between good ol' Rupert Murdoch and his paywall were brought up.

A paywall is classically described by comedian and blogger Tony Martin as "the local racist drunk at your shopping strip announcing that he will henceforth be charging you to hear his foul-mouthed ranting".

But really, it was a shocking lack of foresight by big news organisations to ever give their news away for free online. It created an expectation, while entrepreneurs gave people alternative options, and it can't all be shoved back in the genie's lamp now.

As many have pointed out before me -- what will News Limited have to provide to make paying for their content worth it when other reliable and trustworthy media organisations like the ABC (and Indaily) will keep providing news for free and others will customise the news to exactly suit your interests?

And how does News Limited expect to avoid the dreaded copy-paste function?

But back to that vexed old-new relationship -- research has shown a huge proportion (Pew Research says as high as 50 per cent) of links on Twitter go back to mainstream sources. Twitter has -- or at the least should have -- a vested interest in mainstream media's survival.

So can we please cut the snark and the strutting on all sides and learn to get along now?

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