The Role of the Mainstream Media

26 04 2010

The Death of Old Media is a staple conversation for the online community. Most conversations will contain some permutation of the following phrases: depressed circulation; content delivery disintermediation; community journalists; blogger commentariat; low barriers to sharing; virality; power of networks; online penetration.

Against such a flood of buzzwords, what chance has the Mainstream Media (‘MSM’, natch)?

The shoots of a new Mainstream Media are slowly emerging, however. The ‘solution’, or at least part of it, will come from the major media outlets doing more of what they are good at, and less of what they are not.

This will mean using a combination of an authoritative, trusted brand; talented writers and researchers; and taking a more educative role. We may see more projects like the excellent Channel 4 Factcheck, Guardian Datastore, and CIF’s ‘How to Believe‘ series.

In an excellent post on the Datablog, Simon Rogers writes:

“This means that every statistical claim, every announcement of new money and every off-the-cuff remark can be comprehensively analysed and taken apart in a thousand homes.

We’re now part of that process. For the last year the Guardian‘s Datablog has published raw data every day on the big issues. We put the information out there using Google spreadsheets (because it’s easy for anyone to download the data) and we encourage our users to take the information and build graphics and applications with it.”

Ali Unwin ( @aliunwin)

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