When I went back to school in the spring of 2011 to do my Masters in Digital Journalism and New Ventures I was digitally challenged, and determined to do something about it.
After 20 years in the television business, producing documentary and lifestyle series for specialty cable networks around the world, I was going to get the chance to learn about digital media storytelling. It was exciting!
I didn’t understand theories of technological disruption and innovation until after I entered the program, but I knew instinctively that really, REALLY, big change was on the doorstep of my industry.
Netflix was on the scene, YouTube was growing leaps and bounds, Blockbuster was dead and gone, and the cultural agencies that funded production companies like mine were abuzz over interactive digital media projects—introducing new tax credits to support them.
So what’s happened since then?
Well technological disruption of the TV business is now accelerating at warp speed; the agencies that introduced interactive digital media tax credits are trying to contain the massive number of applications received; and traditional networks and specialties are scrambling to hang on to revenues being siphoned off to new agile competitors in the on-line sphere.
I don’t know what traditional TV will look like in another few years. When you are busy defending the gates from intruders, it is not so easy to find your blue ocean strategy to make it all better.
But as cold hearted as this sounds, for the rest of us I would argue things are looking up.
For the first time in history the internet and user platforms are allowing us to reach a mass audience. We aren’t tethered to a system where the admittance fees to the communication channels, and the necessary tools, are so prohibitively expensive that we can’t join in.
This is an amazing time for any organization or business to use video in their social media strategy.
With ever faster video streaming, burgeoning on-line hosting platforms, and camera technology that is putting more in a mobile phone than we had 10 years ago in some of the highest end professional cameras —video is your stage—you just have you step on to it.
To argue that you are better off to spend your limited communication dollars on more written words is an argument that is anchored in the perceptions from the past. In terms of cost to value ratio today it doesn’t hold up.
In my Masters I was interested in the business of digital media storytelling, but I was also required to get my hands dirty and I reported and filed video stories every week on a web site I created and ran.
That experience brought me closer to where my heart had been as a young TV producer—telling stories about things and people that I cared about. Then I had to carry around a lot of extra people and expensive equipment.
Now the tools of the trade can start with the phone in your back pocket. How cool is that?