I’ve been in marketing, and, more specifically media, long enough to have been a spectator to the shift that moved most of the independent media outlets to the control of fewer and fewer owners. The promise then was that the resources would be much improved, that talent would be leveraged, that everything was going to be less expensive. And, I remember telling a media representative at the time, that it was going to be like the advent of cable. (I was around for that, too. Cable’s promise expressed to me initially at an event I attended in Everett, MA with Ted Turner foretold of fewer or no commercials, less expense, more options, and a surety that local reporting would be maintained.)
I predicted a cyclical trend where media would eventually arc back to local and independent sources.
Today, I was interviewed by a woman pursuing her fellowship (the Fellowship at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) about a very small, hastily produced blog and Facebook page that I write as a voluntary contribution to my city, Haverhill, MA; it is The Heartbeat of Haverhill. The interviewer who lives in DC is including research that extends from England and other countries and somehow comes back to me in Haverhill through a recommendation. Without wanting to steal the thunder of her fellowship study, I can say I expressed many strong opinions on the subject and the variety of ways this is playing out.
It wasn’t until I intended to post on Linked In about the interview, that I remembered what I’d said so long ago and realized I was right…with a caveat. The arc isn’t simply curving back to its starting position, it is becoming part of concentric circles. And people can hop from arc to arc, find the hyper local information they need and crave and then skip back to the newest binge-worthy mega-media drama or the latest celebrinews everyone is talking about.
Little, local stories are gaining a foothold in our media menus through increased availability for both the media user and producer, and demand. I thought about this for a while and wondered if the demand is occurring because the world we’ve made so much smaller through connectivity is actually beginning to feel too vastly expansive. Every devastation in every country, including our own, is part of our daily experience, and way beyond our control. Maybe our bruised and frazzled spirits need a chance to retreat back to the comfortable and manageable where today’s big problem can be resolved with a discussion with the mayor or, better still, a neighbor.
We can’t, nor should we try, to jam the giant media genie back in the bottle, but perhaps we can engage with his more manageable mini-me imps on a regular basis to feel like we’re making some tangible advances.