Thursday, 25 June 2009

New innovative metaphors for the news media, please

The newspaper industry in the U.S. is in emergency mode, no doubt about it. However, new innovations in news production, business models, and advertising are hunted by thousands of professionals all over the world. New initiatives are mushrooming. But, how about stopping for a while, and starting to look answers from - the language.

I would argue that in order to understad the tectonic changes in news media landscape, new concepts are needed. Words, language, always limits our thinking. New metaphors help to build bridges between known and unknown.

But before becoming as language new metaphors are tested and challenged. A lot of time and work is still required. Later we can honor many of these inventors of new metaphors as gurus. Lets take some examples of news media oracles in digital times.

Dr. David Nordfors coined innovation journalism in 2003, and since then a dynamic network of journalists and scholars interested in communicating better about innovations and innovation ecosystems has evolved.

The newest journalistic metaphor is called "individuated news". Coined by Peter Vandevanter, vice president of targeted products for Denver-based Media News Group. Yes, the metaphor is still used with quotation marks, a weak signal of a work in progress.

According to
The Washington Times Vandevanter coined the very metaphor "after years of research into a challenge threatening the entire newspaper industry". "Individuated news" can be defined as "delivering custom news products to paying customers in cost-effective ways".

Just one more example from the history of media technology. The invention of radio was first used like telegraph - only for the one-to-one messages. Telegraph was so powerful as a concept at that time that it prohibited the companies who owned the patents for the new invention to foresee the new one-to-many model.

Broadcasting as a new communication model was invented by accident by bunch of radio amateurs, who wanted to listen music via airwaves. Only after this first commercial and state-owned radio stations were build.

So, the lessons. First of all, listen always also the amateurs, and hobbyists. They still have the genuine passion to change the world. Secondly, and the most important of all. Watch your OLD language! It can prevent innovative thinking - much needed right now in the mids of news industry panic.

Image copyright: Turo Uskali


TED: Kevin Kelly tells technology's epic story (Nov. 2009;Feb.2010)

Extra Readings:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Anderson, let's talk about the future of journalism.

Anderson: This is going to be a very annoying interview. I don't use the word journalism.

SPIEGEL: Okay, how about newspapers? They are in deep trouble both in the United States and worldwide.

Anderson: Sorry, I don't use the word media. I don't use the word news. I don't think that those words mean anything anymore. They defined publishing in the 20th century. Today, they are a barrier. They are standing in our way, like 'horseless carriage'.

Der Spiegel Online: Chris Anderson on the Economics of 'Free' (28.7.2009)


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