Traditional media reality check: evolve or cease to exist

Traditional media reality check: evolve or cease to exist

A digital literacy series would be incomplete without the inclusion of one of today’s most hot button topics – the impact digital media is having on traditional media. This very blog is a result of the rapidly growing world of new media. I am able to share information with an unlimited audience and I am not a newspaper columnist. This reality raises a number of questions – not the least of which is whether the death of traditional media is imminent.

Over the next few weeks, I will pose this question to some of Canada’s brightest media minds in an effort to get some sense of the current pulse of traditional media.

This week we start with Mathew Ingram (@mathewi), a senior writer at GigaOm, a leading technology blog based in San Francisco. Ingram is also a former columnist with the Globe and Mail and co-founder of the mesh conference in Toronto.

Traditional vs digital media

With the endless number of social media sites available to anyone with an Internet connection, there’s no denying the fact that today we are able to converse, share and be informed in ways that were unimaginable to previous generations. According to Ingram, this is the fundamental reason that digital media is forever altering traditional media – in all forms.

“Everything has been democratized. Thanks to the Internet, anyone can create and share content and it’s effectively free to do so. Traditional media no longer has complete control of the resources necessary to spread a message. And this impact can be felt in every medium: newspapers, radio, TV, magazines.”

This democratization means that traditional media no longer has the attention of the masses by default. People are able to create and share their own content – and they can actively choose what to consume and when and how to consume it. And Ingram says that this has made way for increased competition. The traditional media of today is effectively in competition with anyone with access to a computer, smartphone or tablet. The reality is that anyone carrying a smartphone with a camera has the potential to scoop a traditional media outlet.

Ingram points to the conversational and highly personalized framework of digital media as a distinguishing feature that could cripple traditional media. With Facebook, Twitter and blogs, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all”. This is impacting traditional media’s advertising model. Advertisers are increasingly interested in the targeted messaging digital media allows, rather than the mass advertising techniques of traditional media. And this could have serious, even fatal, economic consequences.

“The ‘we produce it and you consume it’ model is dead. It’s time to listen to your audience; join the conversation. It’s time for traditional media to adapt and evolve so that it becomes new media or it will cease to exist.”


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