New Media/Old Media

The Economist this week has a very insightful report on "new media". They did a great job giving a complete overview of what's new in socio-cultural practices due to the advent of blogs, wiki, IM and so on. There are just two articles available for free and they're not (IMO) the most interesting ones. I was better interested in the one entitled "Compose yoursefl". The article addresses how journalism and old media are reshaped by new technologies. This nicely illustrate a phenomenon that is often misunderstood: new media does not bury old media. Of course, some old media are injured but there is - sort of - a new relationship that is being built; and it's not just Rupert Murdoch buying MySpace. What is funny is to see that, in the first place, old media tries to replicate the open-source/innovation (bottom-up?) phenomenon, as with wikitorial (a term coined by the Los Angeles Times to describe a traditional editorial that can be edited in the fashion of a wiki according to Wikipedia)... and it failed. But then, some more intelligent folks found that what was important was not transferring the idea of letting people publishing things to other others concepts. Then the article gives relevant recipe for old media to position themselves in the world of new media:

The first step, says Mr Jarvis [newspaper consultant], is to tear down any walls around the website. Nowadays, "it's not content until it's linked", he says, and bloggers will not link to articles that require logins and subscriptions to be viewed. (...) The sites that bloggers link to most are the online NYT, CNN, the Washington Post... These are free or mostly free stides and thus, in effect part of "the" conversation. (...) By the same logic, news sites should avoid the still surprisingly common internet sin called "link-rot". This refers to websites that publish an article under one web address but then change the URL when archiving the article. (...) Instead of assuming that readers will start on the front page, editors should expect them to enter at any point, probably having started our from google's search page or a blog or an e-mail from a friend. (...) The next step is to allow - indeed, encourage - reader participation on individual pages. This could start with a simple star-rating system of each article. Deeper engagement would include comment panes at the bottom of stories, or blog discussions between the journalists and invited guests.

Why do I blog this? I am interested by this as an observer of how emerging technologies reshape socio-cultural practices. In this context, it's pertinent to see how old media integrate new concepts from new media, with first a naive direct transfer (turning old school newspaper in a wiki-like edition style) that firstly fails and then it stabilizes with the inclusion of certain features from the new media practices (stable url, open platform, discussion features).