What’s more important embracing change or protecting current revenues?
This may seem like an old question. A question which has been debated in the media industry to death – should we embrace the new opportunities offered by the digital media landscape or protect current revenue makers- traditional media. In fact many have debated that attempts to erect pay walls (comments directed squarely at Murdoch) are an attempt not to save news, but to save newspapers. But when you are a small regional newspaper staffed by one, maybe three or four people if you are lucky, why further overload your reporters when immediate benefit is hard to see.
I am currently preparing a presentation for the Victorian Country Press Association’s annual conference and it is this issue that I am considering most. Last time I presented at the VCPA’s training day I was asked by an editor: “Why should I invest time and money into something that isn’t even making Murdoch any money?” This is a reasonable question. Most of these operations work on a bare bones budget and are passionate about maintaining a quality local news presence in communities which may not have good broadband internet connections (unfortunately a fact of life in much of regional Australia).
So what was my answer? Well of course there is the obvious adapt or perish argument. But to be honest that doesn’t help. What I honestly believe is that the regional press, more than any other, is best placed to engage in the conversation needed in the future of journalism. They are already deeply embedded in their community. They are regularly conversing on what issues are important to them and importantly speaking directly to their audience about their published stories. They are a long way from the pedestal that metro media finds itself on, megaphone in hand announcing their story then turning their backs on the ensuing conversation. With this in mind, the regional press is well placed to embrace the Pro Am (professional journalists working with citizen journalists to produce better high quality news) revolution, that the likes of Jay Rosen believe is a viable option for the future of news.
Read more about Jay Rosen’s experiments with Pro Am journalism in the States.
So what do you think? What should I tell the VCPA? Why should they embrace online?