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Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

Everybody’s Talking (and Streaming)

So Periscope huh? That’s become a thing real fast hasn’t it? Probably the most common notification on my phone over the last week has been someone else launching a broadcast. It has also been the most common call from the media looking for comment.

It’s the latest step in an incredible power-shift away from the centralised media and towards the individuals. And in the growth of an incredible problem around discovery and verification.

Let me be clear: the big broadcasters and media owners remain incredibly powerful. But this power is increasingly reliant on their ability to discover, curate and qualify other sources — sources that don’t begin and end within their walls. This places their power on a somewhat unsteady footing, and leaves them much more open to challenge.

Imagine someone creates a way to attribute the trust carried by The Times, The Guardian or the BBC to a solo blogger or self-broadcaster. Like an eBay seller ranking for news or original content. Something that says: these facts are checked, this content is original. This is at least in part what the Google search algorithm has been trying to do in part for many years. Imagine they make it explicit: ‘this site has a trust rating of X, a quality rating of Y, and an originality rating of Z’.

Imagine if someone creates a way to curate stories from around the world with the reliability and scale of a major broadcaster or newspaper. Again, there are lots of attempts to do this, either automatically (Yahoo News Digest) or manually (Flipboard). Back when CANDDi was on the Difference Engine, Postmates Basti Lehman was working on a curation app — plenty of VC money seems to be going into similar ideas.

The irony is that it is the legacy media owners who are in the best position to deliver something like this. They have the reach. They have the trust. They have the capital. Some of them have made moves in this direction: blog networks and the like. But today these seem more like cheap traffic-drivers than a strategic attempt to reinvent the media and roll with the changing realities.

This is a space we’ll be watching as part of our ‘Future Communications’ segment.

Tom Cheesewright