The internet is not a channel, but a carrier of channels. That is a phrase that I’ve been using for ages. After working as a consultant with media companies for a few years, it still needs repeating now and then. And perhaps the phrase should be adapted to something more media related to make it stick: the internet is not distribution for your content, it is a carrier of channels for your content to be distributed in. And more importantly: you don’t have to own all of the channels.
Even when I worked at an online newspaper, I was always an internet person working with journalism – not a journalist working with the internet. This explained quite a lot of the discussions that we had at the newsroom. For me, us as an online newspaper were part of a greater whole. We were a part of the internet that happened to be focused on local news. For others, we were the only relevant news source on the internet. Just as the morning paper was the only relevant source of news at the breakfast table.
This was clearly no place for an internet person. I left, and started my own consultancy. In hindsight, I have thought of three fundamental things that we disagreed on. Things, facts actually, that I think old media needs to accept in order to adapt:
Before: Content was tightly interlinked with distribution
Now: Content is separated from distribution
Before: The journalist produced for the consumer
Now: Producer and consumer have merged
Before: Media was the only outlet for news
Now: Media is a small part of a bigger whole reporting on events
It may sound easy, but out of experience I can safely say that it isn’t. Accepting the facts above means completely redefining the role of your media company. That’s not going to happen over night, and arguably it shouldn’t either. It should be done in steps. The reason why I have chosen to join Twingly´s board is that I believe that they are one of those steps.
Think of it as a classic connect-the-dots puzzle. Each blog, social media or old media is a dot in the puzzle. Combined they give the full picture. That is how I think media is consumed by a modern person today. They combine several different news outlets and create their own selection.
If old media accepts the fact that they are a few dots, rather than being the finished picture themselves, then I think old and new media will have a fantastic future side by side. And Twingly will be there as one of the tools to help connect the dots together.