News from the conference room: this is a series of blog posts in which blogging experts briefly review key Tech4Africa 2010 talks and panels from Day 1 and 2.
There were 2 panel discussions that in my mind are related and the speakers are thought leaders, both online and offline. The first discussion was about social media and how beneficial it would be for large companies to embrace it for their growth. The second was: ‘Traditional Media Is Dead. Long Live Traditional Media’.
In essence the highly influential panelists answered some of the questions many of us have in mind about social and traditional media. For me, the relationship between traditional and social media in South Africa should be seen as one where the one supports the other.
Mike Stopforth (who was on the Social Media panel) rightly said “Perhaps social media is broader than a set of platforms we use on the web and how generally relate to each other.” In my mind there tends to be some unspoken, but very real, conflict between traditional media houses and content producers on the web. Whereas, there seems to be a place for both to exist, with quality content produced for either platform as a means to enable communication.
On the other hand Matthew Buckland quoted loosely said “A clear distinction has to be made between what traditional and new media, we have to look at what traditional media are and what they are not. There are different markets – developed and emerging – and space to thrive in different ways.”
Bringing it all together
The rise of social media – place great content – also means the business models behind traditional media have to be examined. In my opinion, the way we consume media and why I read a lot of blogs (interchangeable with great custom content) is because the content appeals to me.
There might be a great story on the Mail & Guardian, one that’s written to my appeal on Times LIVE but never a whole newspaper. Therefore, not enough for me to buy a newspaper when there is sufficient good content for me. Without tilting the scales unjustly in favor of the social web, I will say – as consumers – we are in search of custom products. People are looking for more of what interests them, not mass produced news or products.
Social media and blogs on the other hand, though they by no way replace good journalism, they need to be seen as a way that can sharpen journalists and advance traditional media. But instead of the same type of content that targets everyone being produced more, there has to be a way of approaching it in a way that appeals and targets a niche. After all, smaller players online are finding ways to do that they are constantly improving – though there is a lot of junk on the web as well.
Nutshells just got bigger
In a nutshell – with this post being that nutshell – I agree that there is space for traditional content and great quality journalism produced by traditional media houses. The “high and mighty” social media is only an enabler, not a replacement of traditional media.