An obituary for mass media

The announcement yesterday by the BBC on their plans to re-invent themselves for the ‘age of participatory media’ makes everything that any mainstream media organization has done to date with blogs, podcasting and other social media just look like tinkering.

Trying to concisely summarize the detail of everything they’ve announced in their ‘Creative Future’ plans isn’t easy. The vision from the press release probably is the best encapsulation:

[…] The plans build on opportunities created by new and emerging digital technologies and confront the challenges of seismic shifts in public expectations, lifestyle and behaviours and on building new relationships with audiences and individual households.

This translates into a 360-degree shift where, instead of the BBC just playing the role of a traditional mainstream media organization which creates and transmits information to you the receiver, you the receiver will become the creator as well as the consumer. The BBC will be the framework for you to do this in a way that transcends any current and rigid notion of who are the traditional creators and consumers of content (better get used to the phrase ‘consumer created content’).

It sounds familiar to anyone involved in social media. But this is mega-scale.

What the BBC is proposing is nothing less than breathtaking for a media organization, a public service one at that (you’d expect such drive and innovation more from listed commercial companies). It’s not just to do with revamping the BBC website, as Media Guardian reported yesterday. No, it’s far beyond that.

The BBC’s plans show the clearest recognition yet among mainstream media that the current social media landscape is purely the beginning of a media revolution – the seismic shift – that probably is on the scale of societal change which followed Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century.

See also ‘Among The Audience,’ a 15-page survey of new media in this week’s The Economist. Read that (paid sub required to access it) and you will see very clearly how the BBC’s intentions fit the changes in lansdcape that are already underway.

So another phrase to get used to, even with its clumsy multi-syllabic construction – participatory media.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Richard Bailey

    Is it an obituary for mass media? Or is this the advent of ‘masses of media’. (Remembering that media is already a plural noun – ‘masses of media channels’).

  2. neville

    Richard, I think it is an obituary for mass media as defined in this Wikipedia entry which is as good a definition as I’ve seen anywhere:

    Mass media is a term used [to] denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state).

    I don’t think it’s the advent of ‘masses of media,’ just ‘participatory media’ if we consider what the BBC is planning as being a singular plural. If you see what I mean.

    Easy to get hung up and side-tracked on definitions, though.

  3. Strive Notes

    The Beautiful Beeb 2.0…

    No other media brand on Earth can touch the BBC for quality and innovation. Nowhere.  No how.  Now the Beeb has announced its intention to refocus its website around user content using 2.0 technology with the mission to “share, find and play&#…

  4. neville

    A good take, Todd. I agree with the conclusion in your post – the BBC is blazing a trail.

    It’s interesting the number of posts I’ve seen today that knock the BBC’s announcement with comment along the lines of this has been coming for years and the media have ignored it, tried to stop it, etc.

    That may well be true. What’s also true is that the BBC has started something that will have profound change on how a whole population (the UK) can create and consume news and information, never mind how they view TV and listen to radio.

    Seismic change as the BBC says.

  5. Tech PR Gems

    The BBC is not unbending…

    The great Tao master 老子 (Lao Tzu) wrote that “a tree that is unbending is easily broken.” The BBC is demonstrating its knowledge of The Way.

    Neville Hobson comments that the BBC’s plans to re-invent themselves equate to “an obitua…

  6. PP Weblog

    Blognomics: kruispunt van ‘oude’ en nieuwe media…

    Afgelopen donderdag tijdens de TINE vond net als vorig jaar Blognomics plaats, georganiseerd door Guido van Nispen en Krijn Schuurman. Interessante, stimulerende, en soms tegenvallende, voordrachten van mensen uit de wereld van ‘oude’ en nieuwe media…

Comments are closed.