The Shrinking of Media

I’ve talked about nano-news in the past, and how consumers (read: the public) have taken to digesting news in smaller bites. Well, like all good things in a free market society, as a market is identified the entrepreneurs follow.

My first example blows my mind. I’ve talked about short-form video a couple of times on the blog, but I hadn’t heard of how one organization, NowThis News, has used the 15-second long Instagram video tool to pass along news. Mashable reviewed the service here:

Since the launch of Instagram Video in June, media organizations have experimented with 15-second video as a news vehicle. However, there is a clear divide between the strategies of legacy news organizations and newer startups.

Traditional media organizations more often use Instagram Video to promote news content, rather than to break actual news. But startup NowThis News is flipping the social media/PR model upside down by using Instagram Video as its main vehicle to deliver breaking news and featured news briefs.

NPR, though, to their credit, are doing something similar.

The second half of the shrinking media story is about the scope of the stories. As 24-hour news networks came online, it allowed news organizations to broaden the scope of their operations and cover LOTS of stories. As time progressed, the coverage of those stories got more and more shallow. A mile wide and an inch deep, as the saying goes. But as the public got access to more sources of news, the blush of coverage that most national organizations could provide wasn’t enough anymore.

So we’re starting to see organizations like Syria Deeply, that is cataloging the depth of a humongous story that could potentially affect us all. Utilizing content scraping and crowdsourcing, they’ve managed to bring a closer look from the international world onto the conflict in Syria. And the model seems replicable:

“We want to figure out how to make one topic in-depth financially viable,” Setrakian said. ” I’m not going to lean on ad revenue because I don’t want zit cream ads next to our refugee content I’m not going to lean on ad revenue because I don’t want zit cream ads next to our refugee content.”

Beyond working with enterprise clients, Syria Deeply receives support from The Asfari Foundation and the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Setrakian believes Syria Deeply has the opportunity to recreate the revenue model because it treats up-to-date information as insight, rather than just news. So far, she said, the cost of content has been pretty low, partly due to the high-volume of free content its been given from high quality news and information providers.

Traditional media, in case you haven’t heard, is scrambling to take adapt to the changing landscape. They get ridiculous computer screens and make hashtags and try to appear differently. The problem isn’t the veneer, though. It’s the change in the underlying contract between news consumer and news producer.

We no longer want to be subjected to what the news Producer (the job in the newsroom, not the general production machinery) thinks we’ll be interested in. We want our news, and we want it crammed into the real time constraints that we live with, not some half hour tripe full of teasers and commercials for programs later on that evening. Getting back to our free market example, once you stop producing a product that the public doesn’t have a need for, they stop buying it. Changing the packaging doesn’t change the fact that you’re no longer addressing a need.

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