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.