Media of me: 13 theses

Thinking out loud about the future of media.

I’ve attended a couple of events this week about the future of media. I don’t have any answers but I do have lots of food for thought.

Here’s what I’m thinking.

  1. Social media democratises conversation. We all have an equal voice. That’s a good thing.
  2. But its polarising, rather improving, public discourse. That isn’t helpful in a democracy.
  3. Algorithms restrain and limit our media consumption. This too is unhealthy. Reading widely is critical to being informed.
  4. My opinion is equal to your fact. This needs to be fixed urgently. I’ve no answers although media education may help.
  5. But all opinions can and should be heard. It’s that issue of democracy again.
  6. Fact and fiction travel at equal speeds around a network. We need tools and better media education to counter fake news.
  7. There are a diminishing number of journalists and media that call power to account.
  8. Abusive or threatening language should never be tolerated in any media.
  9. Platforms are publishers. They need to take responsibility for ads and editorial content.
  10. If you want to buy my attention I need to understand how, who you are, and why.
  11. The media ecosystem is complex and messy. It’s very much a work in progress.
  12. The declining number and quality of local media has created an opportunity for owned and shared media as a means of communicating with publics.
  13. Communities, owned media, and sources of record, are the most trusted forms of media, for now.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

One Comment

  1. Some of the observations you made above indeed chimed with me. They formed part of a relatively easy decision, following a summer holiday this year.

    I decided not read, listen to or watch any news media for three months.

    Having spent 20 years on the perimeters of PR, I have always consumed news in all forms.

    Lately, I had become frustrated, angry, anxious and worried what would appear on the news each night.

    Coming towards the end of five months now, I can share some takeaways:

    The world is not a dangerous or bad place.
    We have all had to witness too much fear and hatred earlier this year. I feel less anxious and much more focused on the near world around me.
    We have become involved in a news media game run by sophisticated and cleaver global news tacticians, political figures, who create constant and often contradictory news.
    This build uncertainty and anxiety, meaning we loyally sit waiting to hear about their next move.
    I’ve become more active in my local community to help improve it. At that level, I/we can all make more difference.
    Social media appears dangerous in a news context. As if to underline the hysteria and anxiety, I heard of a lock-down (I was in a taxi and slow to request the driver turn it off) this week on Oxford St. Major incident. Area evacuated. People are panicking. For the purpose of this comment, I googled and saw the same, mobile UGC footage showing nothing.
    The news is now entertainment. 24/7/365 the screens and pages need to be filled. This has completely eroded the ability of skeletal media organisations to deliver quality.
    I only miss the Today programme – but then I am of a certain age. (42)
    I highly recommend people try it for a short time.
    I don’t have a predetermined end of my media abstinence. But I do feel we need to press ‘reset’ on news media.

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