April's issue of the The Atlantic got me thinking about the state of media today, 2011, with a couple of pretty good and substantial pieces, by James Fallows and former FCC Commissioner Newton N. Minow.
The Jist: I'm feeling that right now media is very much converging as it's evolving.
The Nut: In the communications business, we talk about engagement every day. The question is - what is engagement? who's definition are we using?
I write this because in the Fallows article Gawker's Nick Denton "concluded that courting commenters (a engaged community) is a dead end. A site has to keep attracting new users—the omnipresent screens were recording the “new uniques” each story brought to the Gawker world—and an in-group of commenters might scare new visitors off. 'People say it’s all about ‘engagement’ and ‘interaction,’ but that’s wrong,' he said. 'New visitors are a better indicator and predictor of future growth.'
To me - this thinking directly lines up with the traditional media - get the eyeballs.
New Media, as is being defined, does not own a fixed definition for engagement, but rather a variable one. Denton seems to have found one that works for him - traffic. It's simple. His means are to provide users - or the audience - what it wants. Give them the content they're looking for. This is old fashioned market forces at work. It's an interesting take on community, and what's old is new again.
See, social media and interactive/digital (whatever you want to call it) live together, yes. Interactive work can be shared, but that sharing can't be forced.
I think this is pretty interesting - and speaks directly to the content. Content is king. Maybe we're learning about this digital/interactive sphere.
2 quick things left :
Ted Koppel on CNN
1) the prediction for real or hard news is that it's going to have to be handled at the grassroots level almost, local/volunteer, or philanthropic. Some of it is happening - but who's going to interview the President. There's still a need for serious journalism.
2) Minow is the commissioner who called 'TV a vast wasteland', and is essentially on the same mission, in that however technology is applied to communications, he wants media to be used for public good, like education, health care and public speech. BTW, check the name of the boat Gilligan's Island.