Prime Time All The Time

Will the viral power of the Internet combine with the seductiveness of television to create the ultimate fad machine? Or are we already there? That’s what I wonder when I read a MediaPost report describing how a panel of online executives told the Advertising Research Bureau that television and the Internet “were meldling.”

The article went on to ask: “As the two industries collide, and possibly combine, many questions clearly remain–among them, what will the content landscape look like?” Though the panel largely shied away from predictions, it strikes me that content will be dictated by the audience and the playback media. That is younger viewers and smaller, often mobile playback. Imagine a group of teens sharing some bit on a handheld device and I think the picture of short, coarse bits comes into focus.

Self-published media may elevate the content mix. Small producers will make serious and artistic Net documentaries and satires that will rise above the least common denominator fare that will be demanded by an advertising-supported system. But a look at today’s prime time lineup is a glimpse of the mass market to come.

Scoops move online, notes a USA Today piece that recounts many instances of traditional media outlets breaking stories online and following up with fuller accounts in print or broadcast. The article quotes Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times as saying, “Not all reporters find that breaking news on the website gives them the same satisfaction as breaking it on the front page … And we still save a good number of exclusives for print. But the shift is underway.” Paid Content pointed to the piece and described it as “a pragmatic acknowledgement of the business need to get and keep a user’s attention.”

Open the Garden:
Online commentator Steve Outing, who has left the Poynter Institute to do a startup, has written a column for Editor & Publisher in which he suggests that mass media quit segregating user-generated or citizen media content. He calls that the “walled garden” and argues in favor of an approach that integrates photos and listings from the Web. Though my own gardening experience suggests that plants get trampled when too many folks try to tend the space at the same time, the column shows how this integration can be accomplished through APIs. I don’t understand it all but a good webmaster will.

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