Media's celebrity obsession, eh... who's obsession?
Celebrity scandals and the trouble with Bloglines

A few thoughts on mass vs niche media

Following on my previous post: there is, of course, nothing wrong with trying to captivate the greatest possible number viewers/listeners/readers. That is by definition what mass media is supposed to do. But what if the days of mass media are numbered...

In Steve Borris' words: "The power of Old Media was its ability to reach large numbers of relatively undefined prospects through very few channels – terrific if you are a McDonalds’s with everyone as a potential customer. But for all other advertisers, there’s New Media, which has the power to deliver specialized audiences of only the best prospects. 'Segmentation' is the new 'traffic'."

Or, according to Ross Dawson: "Mass media affords no true relationship with the audience. The rapidly eroding value of sending undifferentiated message to millions means that mass media will rapidly fragment, and the majority of content will be distributed through direct, immediate, targeted, interactive channels."

Both these quotes take advertisement needs as their starting point, but I think a more fundamental reason for the 'fragmentation' we are seeing today, the dawning of the Day of the Longtail if you like, can be found in an intrinsic human need, or to quote Borris again:

"... the biggest reason that blogs like DailyKos will win out is that they fulfill a human need today’s “objective” papers do not. This need was captured best by 19th century French historian Alexis de Tocqueville in his book Democracy in America, in which he marveled at the ability of individual newspapers to attract and organize like-minded citizens into 'Associations,' each representing a different voice. He wrote, 'Newspapers make associations, and associations make newspapers.' Today, DailyKos makes an association. Tomorrow, associations break newspapers."

I think this is especially true in countries where the press see themselves as paragons of objectivity, so more true in countries like Norway, and perhaps the US, than in the UK where the papers have more distinct political and socio-cultural profiles. But then again, if those 'distinct profiles' no longer are seen to reflect the current map of the world, perhaps not ...


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