BuzzFeed-ish World

I had an excellent chance to take part in the 17th International Symposium on Online Journalism. As #DigiComNet member I have listened to variety of arguments and ideas how to make “media great again” in these days.

First of all — reality in US (and unfortunately in the rest of the world) is that media power, once so mighty, nowadays seems to be simply depleted.

As in the food industry — fas food, click-bite and “entertainment” news sites are becoming more and more influential. Sites like BuzzFeed are now leaders of the industry and call themselves “journalism”. Even it’s not true, majority of consumers engage with easy and in a “Top 10 reasons why…” style content that is not the actual news. People from the late night shows, like John Oliver and Trevor Noah are today’s hardtalk people challenging the average American voter to ask critical questions (which basically shows how genuinely wrong the media landscape has become).

The real problem is for the traditional media to overcome digital gage… It goes together with the ultimate question how to earn money in digital freebies era.

Frankly — I have not been convinced that anyone knows the magic formula and in a sense it worries me.

There’s no one who would be setting some sort of a new frontier in the media world, incorporating values, ethical guidelines and business goals. But in my opinion, we desperately need one’s bold statement. We need a Google of the media — a company / organisation that could possibly possess technical understanding of the digital and in the same time have a clear vision of what’s the goal to reach.

Sure — technology can help. Some of the tech (like VR for example) is a neat tool to play with, but in terms of investment it is a decision weither to have a skilled professional stringer in the middle east or Ukraine or to buy tech and hire a person who could manage “sexy” virtual reality projects.

At the end of the day there will be entertaining content left for sites like BuzzFeed to prosper and fair / true (objective?) journalism will be even more left behind.

In the sense of humourous approach to news, Mrs. Galina Timchenko and her Meduza Project is one of the rare examples how to present content in a manner that gains the momentum and “virality”. And it’s not the choice of preference, but a choice of despair really — in order to overcome State propaganda and censorship in Putins Russia.

What will it be for US? Will this be a country of Trump and BuzzFeed? Or we will figure out how to live (and cosume) media? Will some of the leading traditional media make us an offer we simply could not refuse, because it will be wrapped in a most elegant way for us — news readers / listeners / viewers (all — consumers)?

I have hope that someone — will figure it out. However — from the conference… I’m going to my next stop in the #DigiComNet’s journey with lot’s of questions and no clear answers.

But it could be a good thing — I’m thinking about this and hopefully all of the conference participants are, and that makes us all crowd of smart and even influential in some sense.

Who else if not us are able to figure out a long lasting solutions to change the shallow waters of BuzzFeed-ish World?