Mainstream Media is Really Hard

In his post this weekend, Rex Sorgatz points out that “mainstream media is hard”. It’s a truth I know firsthand — I used to work both in the music industry and at a newspaper, and still get the chance to work directly with the people at the largest media companies in the world who are bringing them into the modern era.

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The thing is, I want them to survive the changes, and to thrive. I detest that there’s such an adversarial relationship; This weekend a conversation with a veteran of the book publishing industry reached something of a breakthrough when we agreed that framing the ebook conversation in terms of DRM was like picking which Barnes & Nobles to stock books in based on how much shoplifting they see at that location. It’s not about stealing — it’s about making fans happy.

Similarly, news can be about making worthwhile journalism that respects both tradition and contemporary life. So I was really, really happy to see Rex and Mike Davidson announce that MSNBC has acquired Newsvine. We usually talk about big companies acquiring little ones in term of the survival of the smaller company, but this may well be one that boosts the longevity of both organizations.

And more to the point, I love the conversations that I have with (or pick up from the blogs of) Mike and Rex because, like me, they’re part of a large, somewhat quiet, number of us who truly love both old and new media. It’s been a failing of both parties that people still talk about giant media corporations as dinosaurs, or that the giant corporations see new media like blogs as a threat instead of an opportunity.


As Mike points out in his post, MSNBC sites like Rising From Ruin really show off the potential for companies to combine the reach of traditional media with the emotional resonance of the best of social media. I’ve had the privilege of getting to watch the site mature from its launch the weekend that Katrina hit (it’s a TypePad blog), and seeing how human the stories are on that site, compared to, for example, the manipulative and off-putting versions of similar stories that one might see on TV was really a gratifying example of how a big company can do social news right.

I’m hoping, too, that the new relationship will somehow mean I get to finally meet either Rex or Mike. Despite traveling in the same circles for years and having avidly followed their work for more than half a decade, somehow I haven’t met either of these guys yet.