The long, long, long tail of digital revenue models

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Just got home after ducking out of the Journalism Leaders forum which went under the title *“Why isn’t more media translating into more money for mainstream media companies?”*

The panelists where Chris Anderson of ‘The Long Tail’ fame, Anton Grutzmacher of Hitwise, Peter Kirwan of the Press Gazette’s Media Money and Rick Waghorn of www.myfootballwriter.com.

Anderson couldn’t stay for the whole discussion (he was live by phone) so he got the floor for the first part of the presentation. He had a few stones to lob in the water. “We don’t use the word media anymore” and the succinct advice for the MSM (should that be the MS?”) that we need to “find the market failure in the amatuer internet” to find the areas where we can flourish.

All the talk of market forces and free-conomics and changing models caused, as Mark Comerford noted on Twitter, a huge amount of wrinkled foreheads and worried looks amongst the totally male panel”. (#ChrisAnderson will get you the discussion). But it also seemed to cause Anderson some consternation as well.

When challenged that his ideas would cost and asked who would pay, Anderson seemed at a loss to why anyone would ask the question. Competition would sort it out. You had to compete for the market and if you had what people wanted then you would make money, isn’t that obvious? Obviuously not.

The responses seemed to range from – ‘oh, if only it was that simple’ to ‘well that’s okay if you live in tech savvy California but we have to work in the real world.’

No disrespect to the panelists, as Anderson kind of set the subject, but a pretty tired to and fro ensues and I leave early. But here are two points that struck me:

In case some of the mainstream media haven’t got this yet – “THE WEB DOES NOT OWE YOU A LIVING”.

It doesn’t care that you have been doing this for years, you have to earn your eyeballs like everyone else. Telling us that you deserve special treatment sounds a bit like a multinational bank saying it needs a handout because of the credit crunch. Cause and effect.

But in the same vein, to those who would put all their (and the public’s) eggs in the digital basket (and I constantly need to remind myself of this) – “THE AUDIENCE IS NOT LIKE YOU”.

Just because the web has revolutionised your life it isnt the solution to every problem. Take the UK, apparently “17 million citizens in the UK did not have access to a computer,” A soley digital market will not decide for them. As Mark.C so eloquently put it “*#ChrisAnderson seems to think that the market is democracy in action. #markmedia thinks that is a pile of shite”. Quite.
*

I have some sympathy with Anderson’s dislike of the term media. It’s more and more redolent of a bygone age; Media is more fluid and more open and inclusive but it is also not exclusively digital and not the exclusive domain of the MSM. There is a middle ground and for the most part a lot of tech savvy ‘amateurs’ are doing very well, thanks, without too much concern for either party.

So get in amongst them. Whether it’s rediscovering the community that you thought you had lost or seeing technology where the rubber hits the road. As Paul Bradshaw and others said I’m bored of people talking. We know all this stuff already. I want to hear about people doing”

You can see the presentation via the ubertechsavvy Joanna Geary and her ever present Bambuser cam (thanks Joanna) or the official Journalism Leaders Breeze feed.

Go and be frustrated.

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