04 February 2013

The Media Revolution Will Be Digitized

Hello, my name is Megan and I am addicted to media. 

There, I said it. I am and have been addicted to media for quite some time. I amassed mountains of books in my youth, going so far as to create my own card catalog to keep track of them (for those of you younger than 25, ask your older colleagues what that means). In second grade, I pretended to edit a magazine, recruiting an editorial board and holding "story" meetings. Our magazines were actually blank pages full of scribbles stapled into manilla folders, but hey, we were generating some good content.

When I got older, I started to appreciate other types of media, namely newspaper. There was always a newspaper in our house on the weekends when I was growing up, I was used to the smudgy fingers and ad circulars, the horoscopes and the crosswords, and especially the comics. During my "Garfield" phase I cut out every strip that was in the paper and saved them. Yup, every one.

In college, I was lucky enough to work for the campus newspaper. I applied for the job partly because I liked to write and partly because I was a little enamored of my mass communications teacher who was an old-time newspaper/media guy. He said, "You want to be the person who stays until the end of the credits at a movie," and "You want to be the person who reads the paper," so I became both. 

I loved working in the newsroom - loved the camaraderie of the other reporters and editors, how much we all knew about current events and the fact that we all had an opinion we weren't afraid to share. It was awesome.
After college, I worked for an advertising agency, which my favorite professor viewed as a form of betrayal, but what could I do? They were hiring. During those years I learned about media from the other side and started to really explore the depth and breadth of this new tool called "the World Wide Web." 

Now, ten years later, after having worked for three interactive advertising agencies, and getting my master's degree in professional writing, I seemed to have brought everything full circle. I'm working at a newspaper once again, a major daily in one of the Top 20 DMAs in the U.S. Not as a writer, but as a marketer. And if you think newspaper marketing is an oxymoron, you haven't been paying attention.
I firmly believe via the research I've done and the current state of my working environment, that the day of reckoning between digital and traditional media is upon us. Until now, they have been barely coexisting, pretending to work in tandem, when really, they're working at cross purposes. It's mostly due to the fact that there is still an old guard in traditional media who is scared out of their minds at the rate at which digital media changes and can't believe how fast it's grown into a legitimate competitor. It's also due to the fact that digital media proponents don't really understand or value traditional media. They see it as a roadblock to growth and innovation. 
Neither side is right and continuing to butt heads will only result in an implosion that will take the print world down in a blaze of glory. Newsprint burns hot.
Throughout 2013, my goal will be to examine this day of reckoning and the factors leading up to it. Just as wars are fought for a variety of reasons, this battle will be waged from many different angles. Will there be an inciting incident like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand or the invasion of Poland? It's hard to say; things have been simmering for so long a rolling boil can't be far behind. 

Some of the topics I plan to address include:
  • RIP: Original Content
  • New Consumers are your Lifeblood
  • Advertising isn't the only answer
  • Don't reinvent the microchip - What New Media can learn from Old 
Having worked for over ten years in a variety of media environments and with companies that were both successful and struggling, I've got quite a lot of knowledge and insight I'd like to share. I don't know if I'd call myself an expert, but if someone else did, I wouldn't mind. Maybe I'll be able to shed some light on this showdown that's coming. Maybe I'll just douse the fire with lighter fluid. It’s the not knowing that makes it fun.

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