Shar­ing is not car­ing

The Insider - - DISRUPTION -

Just like the mu­sic, video, book pub­lish­ing, trans­porta­tion and real es­tate in­dus­tries, mag­a­zine and news­pa­per pub­lish­ers are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a prop­erty cri­sis.

We do not lis­ten to mu­sic in al­bums, we stream or down­load ter­abytes of songs; we do not watch films to the end; and we don’t con­sume news in quan­tity; we snack on it. Many of us do not even re­mem­ber the name of the news­pa­per or mag­a­zine where that cool ar­ti­cle we just shared on Twit­ter was pub­lished.

Ex­clu­siv­ity of con­tent is be­com­ing vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent as so­cial net­works spread stories vi­rally across the web, where read­ers can experience fric­tion­less dis­cov­ery of news cu­rated by peers and trusted sources they fol­low. As ex­clu­sive own­er­ship of con­tent dis­solves so does brand affin­ity, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for pub­lish­ers to

at­tain and re­tain the loy­alty of read­ers.

Mean­while, newswires and photo banks pro­lif­er­ate du­pli­cate con­tent across pub­li­ca­tions, de­grad­ing the read­ing experience in mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers. To­day, sport scores, fi­nan­cial news, weather and even homi­cide re­ports are be­ing pub­lished through au­to­mated plat­forms. If th­ese trends con­tinue, it won’t be long be­fore tra­di­tional me­dia will just be com­modi­tized news­feeds of lit­tle worth. Sadly, some al­ready are.

Qual­ity jour­nal­ism is col­lat­eral dam­age in a war be­tween news­rooms and the grow­ing num­ber of com­mer­cial own­ers who care lit­tle about the fu­ture of news or the spread of democ­racy through jour­nal­ism. It’s all about the money and the ones get­ting the least of that are the re­porters, columnists and writ­ers who pro­duce the goods. This is driv­ing them into free­lanc­ing and PR, abol­ish­ing pub­lish­ers’ feu­dal rights to those au­thors’ work.

From the jour­nal­ist’s per­spec­tive, the chal­lenges are not dis­sim­i­lar. Ex­cept for the rare few who may be able to build an om­nipres­ence of their work on­line, the ma­jor­ity will face the same fate as pub­lish­ers – the loss of con­tent own­er­ship.

The shar­ing econ­omy is not talked about much in the con­text of pub­lish­ing, but it is a threat that must be rec­og­nized and ad­dressed sooner rather than later. Be­cause, as in all other in­dus­tries, with to­day’s ME gen­er­a­tion, loy­alty is trumped by con­ve­nience and in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. And pub­lish­ers that con­tinue to hold on to their pro­pri­etary­ism when it comes to con­tent dis­tri­bu­tion con­trol are swimming against a ris­ing tide. It’s a won­der they haven’t drowned yet. To weather the storm of the shar­ing econ­omy, it’s important that me­dia ex­ec­u­tives: - Al­ways put read­ers first – in­den­tify them, un­der­stand them and make them feel wel­come; en­cour­age them to par­tic­i­pate in the cre­ation of ex­clu­sive con­tent for the brand

- Stop push­ing jour­nal­ists out the news­room doors and start re­ward­ing them for pro­duc­ing high qual­ity, rel­e­vant con­tent for their tar­get au­di­ence

- In­vest in new ways to serve read­ers, rather than spend­ing money and time on pros­e­cut­ing those who vi­o­late their copy­rights

- Em­brace clever dis­rup­tion and ex­ploit the op­por­tu­ni­ties of pub­lish­er­friendly dis­tri­bu­tion mod­els

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