Sunday March 12

The ironic future of traditional media

In an interview with the Belgian quality magazine Knack, Axel Vandebotermet & Piet Wulleman (Both from Germaine BBDO) talk about the future of newspapers. They think that the only reason why newspapers and magazines will survive in the future, will be due to their ability to form a community. Not only because a homogeneous community is interesting for advertisers, but more importantly because readers experience a sence of group identity through belonging to the group of readers from the same publication. This belonging can be based on geographic critera (e.g. regional newspapers), etnographic criteria (e.g. the  newspaper of the Indian community in Detroit), or based on a criterium of shared values. According to Belgians most eminent Professor in Sociology Marc Elchardus, this sharing of values tend to be more important in Western society than socio-demographic differences. Newspapers and magazines that unite a group of people who form a community around the same values, will make a difference in the future.

Now what's the irony here?
(continue reading)

The irony lays in the fact that "community" was thought to be the succesfactor for online publishers and a threath for traditional publishers, while both appear to derive their succes from exactly the same ability to form a community. They talk about newspapers and magazines as hangaround places, shopping malls, meeting spots, clubs,...which are exactly the signifiers we use for weblogs and social networking sites.

I think the publisher of the (not so far away) future will be a brand that will have created an excellent architecture of participation and an architecture of belonging throughout the different channels they use. Using the right mix of interactive channels and pure publishing channels in the right way, will create an ecosystem in which readers can:

  1. feel a sense of belonging to a group of readers who share the same values
    (through editiorial content)
  2. participate in the conversation through interactive media (through interactive sites,
    blogs, fora, SMS voting,...)
  3. network with other readers through the social networking functionality that this publisher brand/platform will provide

Any thoughts?


This is most certainly one of the key issues in future media development: how will old communities survive and how will new once emerge. When the internet emerged as a tool, too optimistic internet preachers assumed communities would automatically emerge when the tools would be available. That worked out sometimes, but in most cases it failed. The relationship between media and communities is a bit more complicated.
The old media, even if they focus on the 45+ segment should indeed do everything to keep their community going. Maybe their basis will be eroded in another ten years time, there is no reason to throw that asset away now, also for commercial reasons, since the 45+ segment is the most wealthy one.
If we would now how new emerging communities would structure, life would be rather easy. For the time being - now geographic limitations and needed capital are no longer restraints - service oriented communities seem to be most successful, depending on quality and pricing. Perhaps ideology might be a factor, but that seems in Europe and the US (apart from radical islam) mainly wishful thinking.

Posted by Fons Tuinstra 12 Mar 2006 11:36:51

Here's a link to the Knack article:

Posted by LVB 12 Mar 2006 15:06:02

Here's a link to the Knack article

Posted by LVB 12 Mar 2006 15:07:05

Hey Luc
bedankt voor de annotatie. Ik had het artikel ook gezocht maar geraakte niet voorbij de login van Knack.
Een welgemeende merci,

Posted by Tom De Bruyne 12 Mar 2006 18:08:51

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