Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NewsXchange - why broadcasters and journalists have to be think like trojans to succeed

We're gearing up for the largest news gathering, NewsXchange, in Spain, and in line with most conferences there are private meetings, PR fetes, and innovation hubs on offer.

NewsXchange is a large social where the industry can reflect, exchange, and pick up ideas about News - a commodity whose packaging is continually under threat.

We'll always want news. From Plato'c cave to your sibling's pregnancy( gasp) have you heard the news...Jane's pregnant.

But obviously we've become discerning about what we want, and how we get it. We always were, except the Frankfurt School said otherwise.

And to comprehend this amplified change we have theories upon theories. Knowledge really has become the internecine war of today.

There are some observations that, to me, are quite evident. What's fuelled the social network culture has been the visibility of innovations that firstly got to the heart of cognitive behaviour. That is they helped address a symptom that eventually everyone would welcome.

Secondly, that they were in themselves disruptive against modernism and its appetite for grand gestures, for example broadcasting, and Utopian narratives.

For that reason alone, the rhetoric is that broadcasters and journalists are particularly weak at aforementioned innovations, because by the very description and functionalists of these innovations, they seek to disrupt their own business.

Social Networks 
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, may be the great levellers now paradoxically building communities, but paradoxically they started out as projects which addressed a cognitive need and disrupt a status quo. Postmodernism at its best.

By this logic alone, which the avant garde film makers discovered, once you cease to be hip and innovatory, a new leveller muscles in. Avant garde has been responsible for pushing the language of film as a continuous cycle. Think of all the old and new film makers who come in and out of vogue.

Bullet time, which was hip to a Matrix generation is now pastiche.

The lesson then is that whilst the doors are continually open for innovation, broadcasters and journalists trying to innovate tend to do so with their commodity in mind, to build audiences, when the converse should be starting out to disrupt their base and start anew.

The BBC's Iplayer is an interesting case in point, but works because it addresses a need and takes viewers away from the act of family, appointment viewing broadcasting. But not all companies are this fortunate.

There's innovation out there, but the people behind it will have to be more left-field than the structuralist approach they've hitherto adopted.

David is a panelist at NewsXchange and a jury member for the UK's most prestigious news innovation prize, The RTS News Innovation Awards