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The evolution of the media landscape (and why you probably won’t finish this article)

19 November 2017

From Method:

At a time when many sectors are ripe for disruption, the publishing industry has been doubly affected. Not only is publishing itself being disrupted by new technology, media and changing consumption habits, but the advertising industry, on which it has relied for so long for a business model, is also under disruption. Failure to act quickly and foresee these changes has left publishing searching for a viable alternative model.

It’s a race to the bottom where eyeballs and clicks are the prizes. Fake news, bot-generated articles, echo chambers and walled gardens make up this new media landscape. How did we get here and how can we expect things to evolve next?

. . . .

While the printing press has benefited from improvements and technological advances over the years, from mechanization to digital presses, the most drastic innovation in publishing came with the advent of the World Wide Web. Where Gutenberg had made the replication of content possible, the Web democratized the distribution, lowering the barrier to the access of information further than ever before.

. . . .

[W]e are now at a point where the Web is instant, pervasive and has more content than anyone could ever consume in a number of lifetimes. Yet the publishing industry is still wrestling with some fundamental questions: How do we profit from published content? How do we uphold quality and integrity amid a tidal wave of user (and bot) generated content? How do we ensure that readers can still have shared experiences rather than retreat into tailored, targeted, personalized bubbles?

. . . .

Content is becoming more and more disposable and nowhere is this more visible than in the advertising-driven sites vying for the eyeballs and clicks of the low attention span reader. The 24-hour news cycle has made us hungry for stories throughout the day, we demand an endless stream of news. With this constant barrage of content, inevitably quality and due diligence fact checking often suffer in the rush to output more and more stories. The fight for clicks is a race to the bottom in terms of quality and this can be seen in successful sites like Buzzfeed and the Mail Online — now the most popular news website in the world.

Link to the rest at Method

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23 Comments to “The evolution of the media landscape (and why you probably won’t finish this article)”

  1. The quantity of digital content cries out for more platforms that curate and enhance discoverability like Omnivoracious also known as Amazon Book Review.

  2. “How do we uphold quality and integrity amid a tidal wave of user (and bot) generated content?”

    I’d love to see this so-called ‘quality and integrity’ from before because the old trad-pub let through more than a few stinkers – and blocked some that would have been great.

    “How do we ensure that readers can still have shared experiences rather than retreat into tailored, targeted, personalized bubbles?”

    I don’t think those words mean what they are trying to imply. Readers now have more – not less – choices, not “tailored, targeted, personalized bubbles” that trad-pub wants to force on them.

    • Distinguo:

      Readers do indeed have more choices. If they wish, they can construct ‘tailored, targeted, personalized bubbles’ for themselves, and some do. This is manifestly a Bad Thing. Readers are supposed to get tailored, targeted, impersonalized bubbles, based not on what they want to read, but on what the Cognoscenti have decided is good for them; and they’ll jolly well like it, too.

      The Minister of Culinary Culture deplores the fact that he can no longer compel everyone else’s children to eat their spinach. It’s the thin end of the wedge – the end of civilization as we know it. Or at any rate, as he knows it.

      (Signed)
      H. Smiggy McStudge

      • Yes. But. Trouble is that it also allows people to build a bubble and think that’s normal. THE normal.

        Take care.

        • That feels true, a lot of the time, but when I really think about it, I can see it’s mostly denial. People get exposed to other views all the time, just by existing near or with other people, whether they want to be exposed to those views or not. If they choose to deny what they’re seeing or hearing from those other people, there’s just not much anyone else can do about that.

  3. The success of Buzzfeed and other big digital sites isn’t set in stone. Buzzfeed and others are going to miss their revenue goals again.

  4. I just received a paper Sharper Image catalog in the mail. I used to buy lots of stuff from them, but thought they were long gone. I ordered a few things. The paper catalog is essentially a curated selection in a world of a zillion online choices.

  5. “How do we uphold quality and integrity amid a tidal wave of user (and bot) generated content?”

    So THAT’S what the publishing industry has been trying to do this whole time? And here I thought they were just seeking out the lowest common denominator so they’d know where to set the bar. The bar that no one is looking at anymore.

  6. “uphold quality and integrity” assumes facts not in evidence. Objection.

  7. “How do we uphold quality and integrity amid a tidal wave of user (and bot) generated content?”

    By producing quality? If one doesn’t know how, then we shouldn’t expect it. But those who do know how make the decision for themselves. If an individual or organization chooses to produce quality, then they are free to do so.

    And integrity? Who cares what their mindset is? It’s the product that matters. Nobody cares anything about who produces it.

    The tidal wave doesn’t stop anyone from producing quality. Perhaps those not producing quality will tell us why they don’t, and how the tidal wave prevents it.

  8. PG, are you all right? I’m worried about you, since I’m seeing no new posts beyond Sunday.

    • Thanksgiving week? He has a lot of posterity.

    • I’m worried, too. I thought maybe it was a cache problem. Cleared that. Rebooted my computer. Even ran a malware scan. But the page remained as is.

      • Yes, I initially thought it might be a computer/software problem. From what you say, it isn’t. Now my worry is stronger.

        • So far, neither his nor Mrs. PG’s names have come up in any news searches for Utah(I have seen her book reviews in the websites of Utah newspapers, to give an example).

          Hopefully “won a million dollars or a trip to Tahiti” is the scenario here.

        • Likewise. Hope it’s just work busyness or helping Mrs. PG get the Thanksgiving feast ready. Or writing her next blurb.

  9. I came looking for news too. I hope all is well.

  10. Okay, I thought it was just my browser not refreshing properly. Hope everything’s okay.

  11. not sure the writer realizes the tsunami that is gathering, called end of net neutrality, brought to us by current admin FCC. If so, will be THE story of the decade, if not century.

    • On the one foot the FCC is giving the owners of the “pipes” more freedom while on the other foot the DOJ is saying pipe owners shouldn’t own the content flowing through the pipes and that the allowing the Comcast/NBC UNIVERSAL merger was a bad thing and a mistake. They’re even quoting ATT to ATT.

      If they win in court that should blow up a lot of deals.

      • Tx Felix, already have demon facebook strangling reach unless crossing Zuck’s palm w silver, he’s a bad dude Felix. Dont want anymore squeezes on people’s freedoms to just cruise for crying out loud, slowing down their access or making it ‘not avail right now.’

        Facebook squeezes people’s public calls for prayer while taking dirty money. Nothing I know makes me think the big communi companies are not, will not do exactly same

        I hope you know something I dont, that is positive

    • If PG’s silence had anything to do with ‘net neutrality’, we wouldn’t be able to get to the site in the first place …

      (Of course if PG is taking the week off without telling us then you won’t be reading this …)

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