Mainstream Media on Life Support?

Nancy Snow writes from the Media Reform
conference in St. Louis that mainstream media is on life support and this is an
opportune time for alternative media to get its messages out.

we need to approach
media reform as
a global public health
and education campaign
–Dr. Nancy Snow

Dr. Nancy Snow writes from the Media Reform Conference in St. Louis that mainstream media are on life support and this is a good time for alternative media to distribute messages to audiences as a dose of needed medicine.

Such claims have an element of truth in that major media are undergoing change and a major part of the change is demographic. The audience for traditional media is aging and it’s not being replaced by younger readers, viewers and listeners. That’s a cause of concern for editors, station managers and radio programmers. It’s not on life support just yet, but it could be close to it if trends continue (and there’s no reason to believe they won’t)

The test will come when major advertisers choose alternative media and skip broadcast, for example. A story recently in the New York Times identified the thirty-second spot as an endangered species. On the surface that’s not such a big deal, especially if you don’t like the glut of ads on television and radio. However, if it means that advertisers are choosing to use other forms of advertising to reach target audiences that are more accessible now because of the multiple media they use, it’s bad news for mass media operations.

There’s no doubt that we’re heading into a new era of communication. Citizen communication and civic journalism remain a hopeful gleam in alternative media’s eye. They haven’t yet achieved the reach and saturation of mainstream media. Of course, that’s not the only measure of their influence. If they target the correct audience and inspire action, they will accomplish as much, if not more, than they would by hitting large numbers of people who don’t have an interest in creating change.

And that’s the strategic point. Targetted messaging is possible today in ways that were not available in the past. Therefore, it’s not how many people you reach, but how many of the right people you reach who will act upon the information you share with them.

In the case of media reform that’s good medicine.

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