I have always been of the view that while traditional media is clearly under pressure, it is not going away, rather we are seeing a re-balancing of media consumption.
The oft floated idea that traditional media is “dead” and that all media will be ‘user-generated’ is flawed in my opinion because people are busy and therefore want trusted filters on what’s going on in the world. Oh and many of us are inherently lazy.
I believe that the traditional media can find a profitable future in that role, whether its in print, online or over the air waves.
However, to thrive they need to be focused on adding value to their audience. This can be through news gathering or great opinions and content amongst other things, but trust is absolutely key.
Any ten year old can cut and paste content off the web.
I’ve written about Wikipedia before, but if traditional media are going to lazily do an internet search, cut and paste what they find and publish it as editorial, then maybe the future of traditional media isn’t as healthy as I imagined.
Today I read about how the UK Guardian newspaper included a quote from Wikipedia in an obituary of French composer Maurice Jarre. The only problem was that the quote was made up by a 22 year old student in Dublin and posted online.
Siobhain Butterworth, writing on this snafu for the Guardian pointed out that:
Wikipedia editors were more sceptical about the unsourced quote. They deleted it twice on 30 March and when Fitzgerald added it the second time it lasted only six minutes on the page. His third attempt was more successful – the quote stayed on the site for around 25 hours before it was spotted and removed again.
The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn’t use information they find there if it can’t be traced back to a reliable primary source.
While I am a passionate advocate of “social media”, I am equally passionate on our society’s need for a strong traditional media. However, to survive and thrive, traditional media and journalists needs to take ownership of the value they can offer their readers.
Of course this was just a mistake, and mistakes happen, we’re all human, so let’s not blow it out of proportion, but I think it’s a great reminder of how important it is that traditional media focuses on the value it can deliver.
That “value”, in my humble opinion, isn’t mastering internet search and cut-and-paste.