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January 2019    Dennis R. DuBe'     731/3893


The future of community journalism
     Behavior creates content
          dennis dube #3893   Created 01/31/2018   Updated 02/06/2018

Dear Richard,

(you already know all this, so forgive, in advance, my preachy tone) (which I do so well)

The future of community journalism might be discerned by considering the very nature of the media environment. The context of Media theory is helpful, as it has always been reflexive: you look back at what just happened, and tease out the relationships.

Contemporary media theory, as it exists in academia, grew as a result of the success of the new art of "propaganda" in World War I. Media institutions (most notably radio and TV networks like NBC), seeing the effectiveness of that form of media promotion, poured millions into research at American universities from the 1920s onward. That work merged with the broader thrust of commercial marketing and emerged as the broad and energetic advertising industry that dominated American media from the 1930s onward.

All of that, of course, built on the structure of 'Centralized Media', where media artifacts are inscribed with meaning at the "center", replicated, and distributed to the "periphery" where consumers consume with their money and attention, with some small portion of that revenue managing to swim all the way back upstream to the centralized producers and authors.

That process made profit, and the business of journalism emerged and flourished. We inscribed artifacts with meaning, built business for advertisers, and took home paychecks.

Distributed media blows this all away.

There are three realms: content, structure, and behavior.

In the old media days, we put content into a structure (of production and distribution) to attract consumer behavior (manifested through advertising). Build a bold colorful thing, make lots of copies, cast the bait upon the water, and pull in the fishies.

The content was produced and distributed by the "structure" (we had desks and transmitters and trucks in this part), and the structure's distribution of media artifacts created companion advertising opportunities. Hence, newspapers, magazine, broadcasting, billboards, etc. Mass media.

(You know all this, but I had to say it anyway so it didn't look like I was starting in the middle.)

In distributed media, we put consumers into structures (of production and distribution), to capture and cross-relate their behavior (every single keystroke, upload, purchased), and we charge them for the privilege of being there through equipment purchases, communications services, and memberships.

The old business model was based on distributing value.

The new business model is based on capturing value.

Ok, the stage is set.

Now, what about journalism? Our common concept of journalism is rooted in the Centralized Media, Gutenberg universe, where the value comes from the accurate meaning inscribed within the artifact, replicated mercilessly. Newspapers were important because they had the sanitized, professional news, and distributed lots of copies.

We have to let go of both ends of that concept, both the sanitization and replication parts. We have to build the way for consumers to generate the local news, themselves.

That already are, of course, at a micro level. No matter what happens, somebody sees it. Reporters made it their job to be there to see it, but usually other people are there, as well.

The key lies within that mundane fact; the news is already being gathered. It's just not reported.

That's a consumer behavior. The will tell their mom! They'll tell their friends! They'll make a snarky Facebook post!

They are on the scene when the news happens -- with a camera! They'll send that vid to their friends, or even post it.

Those are behaviors.

Seems like there's a lot to work with here.



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