Among the doomsayers and Luddites at Sydney’s Media140 conference (see my earlier review here) this week there were some positive people, some on stage, but more again in the audience.
Without the benefit of actually undertaking a study (fact gathering that apparently only heritage media can do according to many at the conference) there was something else that struck me about the rift between those subscribing to the Said Hanrahan view of the media landscape, and those who see a positive future: age.
It’s not a strict cut because there is some crossover, but those with a negative outlook were nearly exclusively mid 30s or older. Those with a more positive outlook went the other way, at least among the people I spoke to at the event.
Could it be that the digital natives get it, but the rest don’t, at least proportionately to their age, the older they are the less likely they get it?
To suggest that it may be age alone though might ignore motive vs knowledge. It is probably true that some simply feel threatened by the new and react to it based on a lack of understanding. But I struggle to believe that some of those I saw speak at the event didn’t know what was actually happening out there. You can’t ignore reports from the top newspapers and media outlets in the United States that cover the latest round of new media funding, the stories about out of work journalists being snapped up to work for the latest AOL venture (such as Politics Daily) or TPM expanding its team. The over used example of The Huffington Post expanding and doing investigative journalism is but one other example of many journalists finding work in new media.
But lets ignore the big firms for a moment and look at the other end of the pie: small scale blogging concerns. The Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal reported in April 2009 that the United States is “a nation of over 20 million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work, and 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income. That’s almost 2 million Americans getting paid by the word, the post, or the click.”
Given that you can’t ignore the stats, who do you explain otherwise perfectly smart people in the Australian media telling fables about how there is no future for journalism without Government intervention or a paywall?
As I noted in the earlier post, the spin fails here because this is exactly what this is: spin. It’s a narrative of victimhood not based on the whole story, only parts of it. The problem of course is when you repeat something over and over again, sometimes it can become a self fulfilling prophesy :-)
Post note: by way of definition, when an old media journalist says that the new media models don’t work, what he is actually saying is that the new media models don’t work for old media.