When you look at the media landscape nowadays, large media corporations are laying off staff and going through serious restructuring changes. But what they are really doing is years of changes in a matter of weeks, when it could have been done a little bit at a time. Media has not been “quickly evolving” it has been changing week over week since the earliest days of people sharing stories together. The truth of the matter is that cushy executives like to tell themselves stories to feel better about lacking vision. It’s really that simple.
Investing too heavily in any one media format will always fail over time, as the nature of media intersects with technology and that continues to evolve since the day we had the first type writer or radio station. From when the “town crier” shared the news of the day in the town courtyard, to the earliest regional newspapers, the format with which communication has been shared is always changing. Even the smallest aspects of it, like the paper words were written on.
Recently Bell Canada has laid off staff and made cuts at some of their media companies, because the mediums they worked around are no longer viable from a monetary standpoint. Gone are the days when people listened to the radio or watched TV for their entertainment and news. Now apps like Spotify provide music and podcasts, news is disseminated in real-time between people who are experiencing it through social media apps, and video streaming apps like Netflix or YouTube fill in the gaps for visual content.
The only way to stay relevant in media is to create content that is timeless and always of value, reporting on topics that are fleeting and of short term usefulness, just drowns your readers with watered down experiences that lose their value over time. The way people consume media daily is through social media apps and they are inundated with low quality content from media companies fighting for their time and mental bandwidth, therefore if you just become noise in the newsfeed, over time you lose.
It’s impossible to create engaging, fun, worthwhile media content every day, but yet news websites still continue to pump content every day from their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts just because that’s what they have always done. This is why users tune you out and get bored and move to more engaging formats like Buzzfeed or Vice. Who focus on quality rather than volume, and share stories with depth of purpose.
The only constant is change, and that not only applies to media and technology, but also business. There is no reason that the Hudson Bay Company, the oldest business in Canada, could not have been what Amazon is today. If they had focused more on innovation instead of doubling down on tradition. Now the business is nearly dead due to a lack of vision from management. This same way of thinking applies to media from top down.
Instead of thinking about media through the lens of “the way things have always been” look at it as a fluid moving concept, not a fixed point. Text content will always be the backbone of the internet, given it’s easiest to translate between languages using artificial intelligence and thus transcends languages barriers and borders. But that doesn’t discount the value of visual and audio media and it’s growth rate in marketplace adoption.
We are publishing this magazine feature to remind our friends in media to focus on sharing local stories while mixing it with entertaining mediums that are always relevant. If you have news to share, share it, but add more value in the content to round out the story. And never get complacent with thinking your workflow will be the same as it was last week. Encourage your executive teams to make small changes over time and stay ahead of the curve on technology and social media. That is the only way to really create stability in your organization.