Instead of fearing and/or chasing after New Media, perhaps Old Media should seize the opportunity to organize the chaos that still defines the New Media universe.
Take podcasting. I find it acutely difficult to find really good podcast juice without wading through an awful, awful lot of garbage. Somebody needs to package this stuff up. Somebody needs to make a podcast brand which I can associate with and give some trust to, that I can rely on to find me the good stuff and let me get on with my life. Google isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t doing it. iTunes could do it, but doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to have the resource. And I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to have to wait until all my friends are sufficiently into podcasting so that they can share their good stuff in some social media stylee. I want the Guardian (or the Times, or the Telegraph, or the Sun, choose your colour) to do it for me.
And someday, they will. In fact, media companies might change the way they look at themselves to put this Ã¢â‚¬Å“indexingÃ¢â‚¬Â behaviour at the heart of what they do. Newspapers already organise the dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s events and replay them to me. Why shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t they organise this cornucopia and replay it to me? Why shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the best Ã¢â‚¬Å“amateurÃ¢â‚¬Â content creators accumulate around their media hub of choice? Assuming, of course, that you think they have to accumulate around anything. I do, and I suspect Scott does as well, otherwise this mighty new media universe looks like a jellied mess.
Old Media brands have defined themselves by their original content — the problem now is that the blogosphere has exponentially increased the competition for original content. That doesn’t mean Old Media brands should stop producing original content — instead, they should extend and evolve the value of their brands by developing unique approaches to indexing and filtering the ever-expanding universe of original content online. These branded approaches to indexing and filtering would give consumers clear options for navigating the sea of content — expanding consumer choice while preventing them from drowning.
Some consumers may opt for a more democratic filter, like Digg, but that too has its risks. The Slashdot model represents an alternative to pure authoritarian and pure democratic filtering. It’s a brand people trust, and the editorial decision-making has some openness, even if it’s not really democratic.
Old Media brands can harness their (for the moment) loyal audiences to extend control of the filter beyond a handful of editors, but still keep the content that makes it through the filter consistent with the brand.