Mathew Ingram on journalism: The only constant is change

We live in the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness. The spring of hope, the winter of despair.

“The only constant is change and the rate of change is increasing all the time.” 

Mathew Ingram shared his insightful perspective on the current state of journalism when he spoke at Third Tuesday Toronto #3TYYZ.

I captured Mathew’s complete presentation on video. Here are some of the highlights (and the time in the video at which you can find them):

Advertising revenues have decreased by over 40 billion dollars in a few years. The loss of revenue forces news media to change or die. (1:03)

Paywalls may slow the decline for traditional media, but they also stunt growth. Even at the New York Times, with its unique positioning, online subscription revenues are not keeping pace with the decline in advertising revenue. (1:55)

Paywalls are a “sandbag strategy”. They stem the flow in the short term, but they don’t solve the real problem. (2:55)

There has never been a better time to be a consumer of news. There is an endless variety. Virtually anything you are interested in, there are massive quantities of information available to you that would never have been available to you before. If you want to be informed about the news, you have the ability to do so faster and deeper than ever before. (5:35)

The ability of anyone carrying a phone to commit “random acts of journalism” expands our ability to learn of events  that traditional media might have overlooked or missed. We can use this to crowd source fact checking and verification. We have the ability to tap into the information flow from people who are on the ground experiencing things first hand. And this stream of information can be curated by others to present a coherent perspective on events. Examples: Andy Carvin or Brown Moses. (7:20)

We can get details of things that are happening a world away. And we’re not getting those from journalists who were flown in by some giant media entity and dropped off on the ground and have never been to the region before. We’re getting them from people who were involved in those events, who know the region, who have expertise that we could only dream of getting.” (11:45)

“We can get input and feedback from readers in real time. … That kind of real time check on what we do as journalists is fundamentally valuable. It forces journalists or anyone to respond to criticism in real time, either to defend what you saying, to verify what you are saying, and in some cases to correct what is wrong. Ultimately, we all benefit from that. It may be painful, but it is useful.” (12:55)

Even as some media companies are failing, others are being born. New media like ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, Syria DeeplyPierre Omidyar’s yet-to-be-named new media entity and even Buzzfeed add to the diversity of information and perspectives available to us. (14:10)

“What we’re selling as journalists is trust. We’re not selling print. We’re not selling bits. We’re not selling Cat GIFs. It all comes back to the trust relationship that we have with our readers or the people formerly know as the audience.” (15:55)

“I believe that the good overwhelms the bad. The truth ultimately prevails. People do want to be informed. They do want the truth and they will help you find it. They will help you distribute it. And they will help you teach others if you give them the chance.” (16:30)

Play along at home

You can see the full video on this post. But you also can see how the participants covered Mathew’s presentation in my previous posts covering Mathew’s appearance at Third Tuesday Toronto #3TYYZ and Third Tuesday Ottawa #3TYOW.

Take a look at both Mathew’s video and the earlier posts capturing the highlights of the Twitter stream. Do you think that the earlier posts and the Twitter stream captured the essence of Mathew’s presentation? Did they get everything right? Did they place emphasis on the points and arguments you found most important? Was reading the Twitter stream almost as good as being there?