[LINK] Ffx: Still no bus model for quality jnalism
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Aug 23 11:45:23 AEST 2014
[Forget the dopey headline. This is a statement by a media executive
that shows that the penny is all-too-slowly dropping in Boardrooms,
and not even Rupert Murdoch can play Canute and hold back the new
> ... [There is] a denialist attitude to major behavioural and
>consumption change for news and information in all media. This is
>consumer driven and technology enabled ...
> ... as a result of digital technology many of the old paradigms and
>power constructs are breaking down or are already broken. The
>internet has no respect for the establishment and is a furiously
>strong levelling agent. New models in all things are becoming
> ... a well developed sustainable model for commercial delivery of
>serious independent journalism, as we have known it, is yet to
>emerge in the digital sphere ...
[Aside: This mixed metaphor doesn't help much:
>In the interim media companies must extract every ounce of value
>from fine print products, but the writing is on the wall.
[I'm too lazy to express 'Mene, mene, teqel, u-farsin' in binary.]
Kim Williams calls News Corp leaks a festival of vengeance
August 21, 2014
During my time at News Corporation there were frequent frustrating
leaks, much like the one this week, a comprehensive set of numbers on
the company's Australian enterprises.
The leak, published in Crikey, was different only in that the
material contained substantial unfiltered data which showed a whole
picture rather than the selective briefing process of my day. I
haven't reviewed the numbers since I left News in August 2013, but I
imagine they reveal much which has been suspected as to trends in the
Inevitably the commentary about the data threw brickbats about my
period as chief executive running the Australian company. I described
the commentary from News Corporation as a festival of vengeance.
However, I do not resile from any of the reforms I initiated (many of
which have been abandoned or reversed). Those reforms followed
exhaustive analysis and detailed discussion. The decisions were also
transparent to the chain of command. I shan't go on as it would sound
defensive, which I don't need to be.
The commentary misses the point. Also sadly at its core, it repeats a
denialist attitude to major behavioural and consumption change for
news and information in all media. This is consumer driven and
technology enabled. I find this denialism as perplexing now as I did
when I was in that chief executive seat.
In my forthcoming book, Rules of Engagement, I emphasise that as a
result of digital technology many of the old paradigms and power
constructs are breaking down or are already broken. The internet has
no respect for the establishment and is a furiously strong levelling
agent. New models in all things are becoming commonplace.
This is something of utmost relevance to all media companies and
saying that it isn't so will not change it. Print news media is, over
the medium term, profoundly challenged economically. The numbers will
reach a point where the high fixed costs simply make no sense and are
not sustainable. Rhetoric won't win the day. I believe that a crunch
point may be closer than many think - certainly the horizon in years
is probably a single digit number.
In a digital sphere nothing and no one is safe. Merit, ingenuity,
speed, flexibility and performance increasingly now rule the day in
the media. I think this is on one hand, a good thing because it is
giving unparalleled empowerment to invention and creativity, with the
opportunity of entirely new ways of working and connecting. On the
other hand a well developed sustainable model for commercial delivery
of serious independent journalism, as we have known it, is yet to
emerge in the digital sphere. It is important that model emerges as a
result of extensive consumer trials and from endless communication
between consumers and working professional, because the health of our
democracy is so dependent on a strong and independent media. I
believe there are encouraging signs in many arenas and I am an
optimist as to the capacity for creative energetic minds to find and
deliver solutions. In a similar way our citizens are not fools and
understand the quality of what you receive is a direct product of
that for which they pay.
In the interim media companies must extract every ounce of value from
fine print products, but the writing is on the wall. The advertising
premiums once enjoyed, the boost to circulation from "supported
pricing" for huge volumes of massively discounted copies, and the
aura of print having more authority than digital no longer pertains.
Consumers have in the main moved into a digital sphere and they are
dictating the "rules of engagement". Some of the commentary from News
Corp lacks a respect for the severity and sheer hurricane-like force
of the changes reflected from that power transfer from media owners
to media consumers.
One thing is abundantly clear, we are now living through the largest
single transfer of power in human history, from producers to
consumers. The significance of that power shift is enormous. How
Australia responds will define our modern nation - the challenge of
innovation is at the core. The solutions rest in journalism adapting
to the application of digital technology and engaging quite
differently with their consumers and what they want.
As to how the new environment and the commercial models that fund it
unfurls none of us really yet know. The journey is the most exciting
and confronting in our adult lives - as consumers or as media
professionals. It really does offer the possibility of merit finally
winning through if we live true to the possibilities afforded in the
digitally empowered era.
While some of these forces can have profoundly destructive elements
in some aspects of traditional news media; others are learning and
adapting what's already happening in telecommunications,
entertainment, and some other media companies. The forces are now
impacting other industries such as education, finance and retailing
dramatically. The impact on politics is every bit as challenging.
Fresh thinking and creative ingenuity can win through because the
cost of entry is now lower than at any time before, so the cost of
failure has never been lower. This economic reality allows for new
models, possibilities and expectations to be explored and tested.
Never has content and commercial creativity been so unencumbered - we
all need to reflect long and hard on the implications of this new
This is the largest citizen empowerment change seen in history, and
it has happened almost entirely from technology. The impact on
consumer behaviour and, more importantly, on expectation has been
overwhelming - a true game changer. We live in different times and I
for one am very tired of hearing examples and role models which are
historically inappropriate, holding to a past with little to offer
the adaptive approaches required today.
Kim Williams, former chief executive of News Corp, is the author of
Rules of Engagement (MUP), published next week.
Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 6916 http://about.me/roger.clarke
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law University of N.S.W.
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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