Sharing is not caring
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