It’s no secret that digital media has forever altered the media landscape – and it’s not done yet. This rapid evolution has left everyone who works within the digital realm scratching their heads and wondering how to move forward.
Mainstream media has been hit particularly hard by this evolution; they’ve had to change everything from the way they connect with audiences to their revenue streams. Needless to say, there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from the media’s digital journey – especially for communicators who are struggling along the same path.
With this in mind, we hosted our first digital breakfast, The Digital Effect, on March 21, 2018 at the Global Business Centre in Calgary. We were lucky to have three media pros join our panel:
Doug Lacombe, Communicatto’s president and founder, led the panelists through a discussion on how digital has altered the relationship between the media and its audience, and how communications professionals can leverage new earned, owned and paid tools for success. Below, we’re breaking down the five big takeaways from the event. Thanks again to our panel and guests for joining us and participating in such an important conversation!
The endless news cycle
While news consumption used to be limited to the traditional morning, evening and nightly newscasts, that’s no longer the case, thanks to digital.
“The news is a 24-hour cycle,” Jones remarked.
Communicators are in the same boat – a social media emergency could occur at any hour of any day. Comms professionals have to be prepared to contend with any issue that arises for their company, or risk falling behind the story.
“The deadline is right now. We’re constantly pumping out content,” Tucker added.
When it comes to digital media, there are no days off.
The digital effect on old strategies
As audience demographics shift, traditional media must not only shift as well, but it must find a way to thrive. We all know about Millennials’ preference for all things digital – maybe their parents still subscribe to print media, but this up-and-coming generation prefers to consume their news online. This has certainly created headaches for the media, but now they’re finding ways forward.
“We’ve got a whole generation of people who are a different type of news consumer,” said Jones.
Advertisements used to be the biggest sources of revenue for news outlets, but that’s changing as digital consumption increases. While ad revenue continues to be a priority, the focus has shifted to subscriptions (online and print) as well as paywalls.
Many communicators who are making the jump to digital media also struggle to let go of outdated objectives, but with new media comes new goals – a refusal to adapt is a refusal to succeed.
Instant audience feedback
While the public’s access to the media via social platforms has opened up innumerable opportunities for connection and conversation, it has also created a constant stream of criticism.
“Now we’re just inundated with pitches from the public,” Tucker stated.
Oftentimes, those “pitches” come from people who just want to have their opinions heard – there’s little room for conversation (or a balanced story).
When it comes to interacting with this kind of feedback, Tucker had a simple yet profound take on the matter.
“Do some people just want to argue their own agenda? Yes. But is that new?”
“Facebook and other social platforms have seemed to unearth a bit of a dark side in humanity. We’re very tribal and we’re very emotional and we don’t generally act on facts without the right circumstances, prompting and delivery of information,” Lacombe noted. “Ultimately, that’s the problem.”
“We’re in the midst of a decades-long struggle to restore rationality and the only reason it was semi-rational before is because there was a scarcity of supply. Now, everybody can blab on their megaphones.”
The impact of “fake news”
“Once upon a time, mainstream media was king. What we said, people listened to and trusted. Now that trust has been compromised,” Di Giuseppe remarked.
However, the Canadian media is unwavering in its commitment to reporting on both sides of every story, no matter the platform.
“The story drives the reporting,” Jones added. “Despite what you hear, it’s not about bias.”
The term “fake news” has been thrown around in every imaginable context – at this point, it’s basically lost all meaning. Everyone from political leaders to Twitter trolls are “speaking out” on fake news, much to the mainstream media’s frustration.
“I don’t think it means ‘fake news’ anymore. I think it means ‘I don’t like your reporting’,” Tucker observed.
Do a little digging
Has digital media eroded our collective ability to separate fiction from the truth?
There was much discussion on the public’s responsibility to get curious about the news they’re consuming. While some believe that people should be able to take stories at face value, Di Giuseppe said that consuming a story via multiple outlets offers a broader range of perspectives.
“There are so many resources out there that are delivering similar messages that when I listen to someone telling me their part of the story, I have to assume there’s always a few other sides to it. Otherwise I would be known as a biased journalist, which I don’t ever want to be, but more so the fact that it goes against everything I was taught.”
For more on the conversations that took place throughout The Digital Effect, take a look at our Twitter Moment below and make sure to check out our hashtag #MediaOnDigital!