Saturday, September 26, 2009

What is wrong with a mixed media diet?

Today, I may have gained some sort of insight into the state of literacy in our nation today. You see, today I watched the AFL Grand Final on the television, played the FIFA 10 demo on the XBOX360, read the news on my computer as well as reading Girls with Slingshots (Mad Props).

At no point during this day did I have time or the inclination to read a newspaper or try to get back into Ulysses. As such, not only did I figure out why literacy rates are dropping but gained a frightening insight into my chosen career. Those of you who read this blog would know I have ambitions of working for print media, but how are my words going to be read when people are too busy utilising other mediums?

All the talk of people not liking the product that newspapers are putting out in the new millennium is missing the point entirely. People are somewhat digging what print journos are doing, it's just that they have absolutely no time to read it. I...want to go into an industry that's becoming redundant through no fault of its own? Am I insane!? Probably.

Forgive me if I'm musing over an old chestnut, but I find myself scared by the voracious media appetite I've developed and the decreasing amount of time I have to satiate that appetite. When an increased appetite combines with a lack of time people will naturally gravitate toward the medium which can get the message to the recipient at rapid speed.

Does print do this? God no. You need a good half hour to digest the daily rag, but you need about five minutes to hear the daily news bulletin. By the same logic though, online media shouldn't be so popular as it takes as much time to read an online story than a print story.

It's a good argument, but it fails to take into account the modern penchant for multi-tasking. You can't check your emails and see what people have written on your wall while you have your nose buried in newsprint, whereas the online arena allows people to multi-task like some sort of mad German (why are they always German?) timemaster.

Of course, if people are attracted to broadcast and online mediums they're missing out on the most important question journalists can ask: why.

It's my humble opinion that print media answers this question with far more regularity than other mediums. I don't begrudge other mediums or demonise them as the 'enemy', but they're concerned with playing to their strengths. Namely, that it can be consumed quickly. The funny thing is though, the truth is never a simple thing which can be answered with a couple of soundbites and talking heads. Truth isn't simple, and requires analysis to bring out.

So why is it then, that newspapers haven't yet significantly changed? Why aren't they obsessed with answering 'why'? Why are they still merely reporting the facts and engaging in tabloid journalism instead of playing to the medium's strengths?

In some respects, the war between the mediums are the imaginings of journos wanting something to gabble on about (and for bloggers to spew over). If all mediums play to their strengths instead of playing follow the leader, all mediums will achieve their niche. Of course, the news has become a business, and businesses will always compete for a bigger market share. The best way to do that, as they see it, is to follow the leader.

It's going to take guts for someone to innovate when jobs are on the line and outlets are shutting down left right and centre, but an informed democracy is at stake. A literate one too.

You see, as part of my job which I'm working in an effort to fund my job search (huh?), I converse with a lot of teenagers. I listen as they play social pop-media commentator, using garbled English and trite catch-phrases in an efforty to impress their equally vaccous friends. I swear to the various deities I once heard someone used the phrase "OMG, that show is so fail".

The OMG in that sentence isn't abbreviated for the ease of the reader, it's a direct quote.

'Till next time

No comments: