What is ‘new media’ anyway?

On Saturday (March 14) I was invited to be part of a panel presenting on “Marketing New Media” as part of the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival. My fellow panelists were much more experienced in the “traditional” (or old) media business than I. Most have spent their careers at WB, Discovery, et al.

It struck me that we were all using the term “new media” but for those coming out of the traditional production businesses – cable, network, broadcast – “new media” meant new outlets for their existing and future content. With some “webisodes” and social networking added on top. Indeed some of the webisodes are great stories on their own, but overall, ‘new media’ is just an outlet for the properties and brands created by old media.

Indeed, one of the panelists suggested over lunch following that the current conglomerates will simply buy up any ‘new media’ ideas or companies that might get traction and will therefore keep the hegemony going.

Since I don’t come from that background, I see new media as being something different from old media, but until Saturday had not been pressed to define how new media is different.

It’s not production values as some new media has very high production values and some cable shows have very low. Budget alone doesn’t seem to be a distinction. A lot of cable content had very low production values in the earliest days, but now, some 20 years later, cable is winning Emmies for quality drama production because audiences are now too small for network.

To simplify it to “reach” would mean that old media will always have the lead because it has already got the lead. New media could not exist.

To my mind ‘new media’ is the distribution corollary to democratized production and therefore has a distinct flavor difference than old media. After spending the weekend thinking about it, the distinction I would like to draw is that old media’s customer is the advertiser, and there are many layers between producer (creator) and viewer.

In new media there is a direct connection between producer and audience, and shows are made for the audience, not for the channel, network or advertiser.

New media is unmediated. It sinks or swims on the attitude of the viewers, not advertisers or executives.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments.

4 thoughts on “What is ‘new media’ anyway?”

  1. I think that’s a useful distinction. I like to say that New Media represents the end of industrialized entertainment. From the invention of motion pictures until now, the core values of entertainment (known for good reason as the “entertainment industry”) revolved around the machinations of large scale enterprises. Those enterprises express their own values first and present material from an industrial point of view. Audience choice was restricted to what the industry chose to present. Now that audiences can choose anything they want, they make different choices, often for different reasons.

    1. Good question Martin. I’d say somewhat more like old media than new as there are still heavy layers of approvals from stations required for a project to get up, which breaks the direct producer/viewer relationship.

      Philip

  2. I think that’s bang on Philip. I’ve never really thought about it, but that’s exactly the difference between old and new media. And by the way I have a real problem even saying “new media” these days. I think that’s an old media way of describing things they don’t fully understand.

    Phil

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