Media Landscape vs. Media Ghetto
Katie Streten argues that even now, digital media is viewed as a poor relation to other media, but that digital professionals are partly to blame for this state of affairs.
“Don’t these people have a life?” As a digital practitioner, how many times have you heard those words or something like them? Chances are, if you work with anyone in television, quite a lot. It expresses a disbelief that anyone would deeply engage with, well, take your pick of current 2.0 experiences, but Twitter is often the one that emerges first. This kind of attitude springs out of an inability to see beyond established media into the media landscape and more importantly to see beyond their own personal media usage to what other people might be doing with their time.
Of course, it would be doing a disservice to television professionals to say that they all think this, and it would also be a disservice to suggest that it’s only television execs that do this. Advertising creatives are just as bad. Though they pay lip service to delivering digital expressions for their clients and are quick to jump on the latest digital band wagon, in their hearts, the 30 second spot, the billboard, the paid for ad remain the only effective way to communicate with an audience, no matter what their planners might tell them about where their audiences actually are. Television equals millions, online equals thousands.
But you know who’s also incredibly likely to take a blinkered attitude to other media? That’s right buddy, you and me. Digital professionals.
I have actually heard digital professionals say that “television is dead”. To confidently assert that the only mediums that matter are digital demonstrates the same inability to think beyond your own use of media as that of those who dismiss digital channels. The truth is that other media aren’t going to simply die. The only media that die (smoke signals, stone tablets) do so because an equivalent has taken their place and they no longer deliver an effective social function. But there is an ease and effortlessness to television that people enjoy because fundamentally we all like to kick back, relax and let other people think for us once in a while.
So the likelihood of it completely disappearing is very low. It will definitely undergo change and I believe its current status as “the first medium” will continue to be eroded as online and mobile come into their own. For instance, we all know that increasing numbers of people watch television and use the Internet at the same time. It’s not that television is dying it’s that it is becoming a parallel medium used in a similar way to radio – to accompany other activities.
So why is all this negativity a problem? Blinkered allegiance to one media moves you from the media landscape to the media ghetto. It’s isolationist and demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of future tech development. If you are planning a campaign or are developing content for a client and you fundamentally look down on the other media in the media landscape then you will be doing them a disservice. We need to see our activities as part of a greater whole and then suggest ways that their effectiveness could be enhanced by using other media – not try and dissuade people from using it because in the long run that will be more effective for our clients and ultimately therefore for us.
About the author
Katie Streten is head of insight at Imagination. She has been creating online content and experiences since 1995. Most recently she was the Head of Factual content online at Channel 4 managing the team that delivers support for all Channel 4's factual, news and sport output. Prior to that she was the Website Manager at the Science Museum ensuring that all museums in the National Museum of Science and Industry had an effective web service and delivered an excellent standard of content. In 2007 she won a BAFTA with channel4.com/fourdocs.