Upstart Media

There’s a lot of talk these days about citizen media — individuals or small groups taking the news into their own hands. There’s a lot of action as well. Against this backdrop, ten local groups were each awarded $12,000 grants in April to launch or continue citizen media sites. The grants were awarded through the New Voices program of the Institute for Interactive Journalism. The grant program runs through 2006, so I guess there will be a new round of seed money offered next spring. I blogged about the current competition in February but was not among this year’s 243 applicants. The winners are an eclectic in every way but I note that at least four of the 10 plans had a strong audio component. KRFP News, for instance, is a low-power FM station in Moscow, Idaho . The Hartsville Messenger is an effort in South Carolina that will include training citizen journalists to produce audio. A site called kaPow aims to create a hip-hop portal in Philadelphia. Loisaida Speaks will start training young women on the Lower East Side of New York in podcasting. The other grantees may plan similar audio efforts, but those examples were enough to corroborate my own notion that listening, rather than reading or watching, is the growth area when it comes to absorbing media. Video certainly won’t go away but I think shows will get shorter or go away and turn into bits.And writing will remain the foundation of knowledge. It may be a failure of imagination on my part but I cannot imagine anything that replaces the clarity of linear thought as expressed through the written word. But when I think as a businessman in search of an expanding market, and as a communicator who wants to make the info-product easy to absorb, it occurs to me that fastest way into a person’s brain is to whisper into their ears.

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media