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10 reasons to feel hopeful about the future of media

You know the publishing model is broken when a conservative financial newspaper runs the headline “Entrepreneur Riding the Vagina-nomics Wave” in a story about the rise of sex tech.


A bit of fun in an otherwise dull day of company reporting? Or a symptom of the increasing desperation for readers and clicks at any cost to brand credibility?

Journalism has been deeply disrupted. But unlike other disrupted sectors, there’s no obvious replacement

model in sight.


Newsmaking needs to be recognised as an important social enterprise — not simply a commercial endeavour. When you shift that perspective, it’s evident there are many new platforms are successfully and positively influencing the way we share information. Whilst some of these channels are still not well understood and are populated by early adopters, the ripple effect is profound.

Medium is one such channel — encouraging a return to thoughtful, long-form content without the long shadow of a desperate sales agenda. This is often now a first channel of choice for global thought leaders and writers who are interested in changing the conversation on important topics.


Twitter is another. Despite its struggle with mass adoption and lack of clearly defined raison d’être – Twitter has always excelled in influence and has had a profound impact on the way we communicate. Twitter’s introduction of the 140-character limit on tweets has bred a new generation of succinct communication, reader-centric prose and clever abbreviations. Twitter has taken breaking news and citizen journalism to new levels of influence. Thanks to Twitter, celebrities and political leaders for the first time have a real-time, unfiltered channel to broadcast from and engage with the public. Case in point — a prominent Australian tech entrepreneur Atlassian coFounder Mike Cannon- Brookes tweets about an energy challenge in South Australia. Elon Musk replies immediately via twitter with a world-first solution. The rest is history.


As traditional magazine and newspaper titles have floundered, we’ve seen the rise of many new independent vertical online channels which are purpose-built for their new tribes of readers. These platforms are not built by the usual moguls; they are mostly created from a place of passion and purpose. Many of these titles are not only surviving against the odds but thriving compared to the established titles.


This week I met a twenty-two year old media entrepreneur who has created a new media platform which is a brilliant fusion of surfing, skating and tech culture. She has managed to attract a tribe of volunteer contributors from around the world to her emerging platform. That’s inspiring.
Who knows what new journalistic models will look like in ten years? Regardless, these are my top ten reasons to feel hopeful about where media content is heading. Let me know what I’ve missed…

1. The life and power of the common man is more visible, more relevant and more important: The age of television reporting changed our world view profoundly — putting the spotlight on humanity, social issues and their consequences in a deeper way than ever before. A combination of internet access, social platforms and the convenience of personal devices such as mobile phones are taking citizen conversations and perspectives to another level of visibility. More people in developing nations have access to a mobile phone these days than a television set, all equipped with cameras and often with internet access. Is this worldview perfect? Of course not. Is it more perfect than it was? Unambiguously, yes.

2. Social media has created greater self-awareness — for all its flaws, social media has been a profound form of social therapy over the past decade. From our first, painfully self-conscious status updates on Facebook (“why would anyone care about what I’m doing?”) to the full-blown sharing of our everyday lives via words or images across multiple platforms. Yes, we have more intensely polarising debates about social and political issues. Yes, some of this is superficial and much of this content remains highly curated. Still, most of us have dug deep and been willing to express or take in ideas, feelings and experiences that would otherwise have remained beneath the surface or perhaps have been exposed only to our safe inner circle. This has been a catharsis. It has opened us up to more of everything — more beauty, more knowledge and — yes — more ugliness. More of life!

3.We have more openly explored “dangerous” topics and social taboos — whether from the safety of anonymous comment sections or openly on social media, we now know what the average person thinks about a range of controversial topics. Again, it’s not always pretty. And trolling and online bullying to one side, there’s no real way to avoid the controversy. Unless we acknowledge where we are at on some of these topics, it’s impossible to progress our thinking.

4.Creativity and self-expression has blossomed — In 2017, self- expression is no longer an elite pursuit; almost everyone from eight to 80 is capable of expressing themselves as a writer or photographer on some level.

5.We have more connection with others — albeit online — Period. Safe and unsafe. Old communities have been augmented by new online communities which cover a range of passions, interests and niches.

6. We know more about life’s consequences — platforms like Facebook and Instagram have allowed us to stay to connected to hundreds of people we would have lost touch with long before – demonstrating what happens to a diverse group of people’s lives over time. The traditional news media, based on the immediate reporting of tragic or major events (with little follow-up information) never afforded us this privilege. This is useful and fascinating.

7. We have honed instincts around what other people interested in. Social platforms have delivered even the most reclusive of cyber surfers a crash course in social IQ. Feedback around what attracts or repels in an online environment is swift and direct (sometimes brutal). What people may not tell you face-to-face, they share in online environments.

8. Beautiful work from previously obscure artists and writers can find an audience. The advance of viral online content has seen talented (or simply deeply truthful) individuals and artists catapaulted from obscurity to great notoriety. Photographers, poets, painters, songwriters, writers and everyday people with powerful stories have all benefited from a more democratic world of content sharing.

9. Media disruption has motivated talented writers, thinkers and business-people to create new independent media outlets which play by different rules. If we want the news media model to progress, it’s important to explore and support innovative content models that are genuinely aiming to improve media.

10. Celebrities, Politicians and others can now communicate directly to the public unfiltered. Of course this is a mixed blessing when it comes to a public figure such as Trump. But regardless of where you stand on his politics, there is no mistaking his position on most topics. And, of course, if he cares to read his twitter feed, Trump also has a wonderfully unfiltered view of the people’s response to his policies and political statements.

After a decade of disruption, media is now inherently more democratic and inclusive. This does not solve the issue of the erosion of journalistic professionalism or integrity, but it is a decent form of compensation whilst we transition to the new world of news media.

Don’t agree with some of these points? Bring on that debate — and celebrate the fact that we can. Let’s not forget, little more than a decade ago, readers had to suck it up when they didn’t agree with editorial … or write a letter to the editor. Feedback is now only one click away.

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