So apparently this is New Media Week in the middle of the country. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was at a conference sponsored by the PPF and UNESCO on Reinventing Canadian Media. At the same time, the Evans/Ingram MESH Conference was exploding down in Toronto, even as the latest installment of the excellent Samara/Massey journalism seminars was taking place.
Me, I was at the PPF event. The keynote was Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and — it would appear — one of the architects behind the “digital first” strategy that Paul Godfrey is implementing at his shiny new chain of dailies. Jarvis was excellent, by turns insightful, entertaining, and pleasantly, annoyingly glib. My role at the event was to give a sort of insta-wrapup of the day’s events, which turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. Thankfully, I’m getting a second kick at the can; I’ve been asked by David Mitchell at the PPForum to write an extended essay about the themes addressed at the conference. I’ll be delivering that sometime soon (well, before summertime anyway), and will point it to you when it is up.
For the time being, I’ll say this: I’ve probably been to a dozen or so conferences or talks over the past few years on new media, journalism, and the future of democracy, and for the most part they’ve been exercises in treading water. But at this this conference, for the first time, I thought we were starting to make some progress. We have a better sense of what the problems are, both with respect to journalism and its place in a democratic society. There has been a bit of a shakeout in the many alternative journalism models that sprung up (e.g. citizen journalism, crowd-sourced media, philanthropic models such as pro publica, and so on). Finally, we are starting to see the contours of a new business model emerging. Or I should say business models, since it is increasingly apparent that there won’t be a single solution, and magic app that will restore the ad-based model to its former, profitable, glory.
The times remain interesting (in the Chinese sense of the term), but slightly less so.
Anyone at either the Samara or MESH events? I’d love to know what you thought.