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Column: What’s the Difference Between Old and New Media?

May 10, 2009  •  Post A Comment

When online video news and review site Tilzy.TV said it would host a Web video upfront to bring together media buyers and the best digital studios in a matchmaking event in June, my first thought was, “It’s about time.”
Not for Tilzy, but for the online video business. Web video, as we know, is one of the few advertising mediums growing this year, with experts such as eMarketer and Magna predicting anywhere from 30% to 45% growth.
Tilzy’s event, the “Onfronts” in New York in June, will showcase Web studios such as MyDamnChannel, Next New Networks and Take180. It’s bound to spark more interest in new media ad investment.
The Onfronts follows several efforts over the years to generate interest in digital platforms during the spring upfront season when the broadcast networks sell most of their television advertising inventory.
Multimedia company RipeTV has hosted upfront presentations, while several video-on-demand programmers have paired up to present their VOD pitches during the prime selling season. This year, NBC is even hosting road shows for the first time to highlight NBC.com and its digital properties to more than 15 agencies including Starcom, Digitas and MediaVest.
But the Tilzy Onfronts also got me thinking about a bigger question than who is going to spend money in which medium. I’m thinking about how we refer to each medium—the words we use.
We refer to online video, mobile video, podcasting, blogs, YouTube, Hulu, viral video, iTunes, full-episode streaming, etc., as “new media.” On the flip side, we often refer to that stuff we watch on the TV set itself as old media. (Of course, we also refer to print as “old media.”)
But when should we stop using the old and new adjectives? When does media just become media, neither old nor new?
Rather then relying on the usual industry suspects, I decided to go to the people for an answer. In a crowd-sourcing effort, I surveyed my Twitter and Facebook friends—some in the media business, some simply avid media consumers—and here’s what they had to say.
J.P. McGovern: “I don’t think it’s old vs. new. It’s disconnected media vs. digital media. Disconnected media has the advantages of often being permanent and often unreliant on electricity, but is outweighed by the advantages that digital media has: searchable, transmissible, global, contextual, duplicable, transformable, sharable, etc.”
Eric Susch: “We need to say ‘old’ and ‘new’ to differentiate those who ‘get it’ and those who don’t. In any case, anything’s better than ‘THE media’ as if it’s all one thing!”
Rick Rodriguez: “Media is media, but there’s establishment media and upstart media. Or traditional and nontraditional. Too many syllables. ‘Old’ and ‘new’ will do.”
Ralph Graves: “As long as there’s a distinction between analog dollars and digital pennies, there’s going to be a divide. Plus I think it also represents a fundamental shift in thinking, both as to how media is presented and how it is consumed.”
Chris Morin: “Personally, I think it is all media. Their differences may be in financial models and accessibility, but those lines are converging. We have seen new media content distributed via old media and old media moving into new-media territory. Ideally, both adopt the best of the other and we move forward into 21st-century media.”
What do you think?

42 Comments

  1. Old media are physical: books, magazines, newspapers. New media are electronic, they exist as bits of data or magnetic impulses. The content of old media may be converted to new media, such as old TV shows that are now on-line, or books and newspapers that have been digitized. The old media that will survive as such are those which are not time-sensitive, such as classic novels or the Bible. Those that are, such as newspapers and magazines, appear to be on the way out, like the print version of TV Week.

  2. I agree that the terms new media, web television and digital entertainment won’t remain relevant for long.
    This is our first step in re-thinking the media-planning process in an emerging distribution paradigm with a very different value structure.

  3. Great insights Andy, that’s exactly where the market is going.
    Up to the minute information will move online, whereas information that has the capacity to affect someone on a deep, interpersonal level, philosophy, religion, poetry, ethics, time-honored literature, will still have a market in printed literature as people will still want physical representations of the things that are important to them.
    Matthew Nederlanden
    CEO of rhiz.antho.us
    the crowdsourcing advertising viral video ad agency

  4. Upfronts are an old model that aren’t relevant in the digital space. An aggregated upfront doesn’t make much sense — who is going to want to bring their own media buyers to the table and expose them to other content producers?

  5. Now that I’ve had a chance to think about your question a little more, I actually have a better answer. “New Media” isn’t something separate from “Old Media.” New Media is what Old Media is becoming. It’s a paradigm shift that’s difficult to get a handle on because we’re all right in the middle of it and it’s constantly changing.
    As far as the other terminology you mention:
    People have become accustomed to describing content by the delivery technology. It’s a short cut that doesn’t work anymore. I watched “I Dream of Jeannie” on iTunes the other day. Is it still a TV show? I guess it is since that’s what people called it when it was made. But what about Dr. Horrible? It’s in the TV Show section of iTunes but I don’t think that’s how people would describe it. When I pop in the TikiBar DVD am I watching a DVD or a Podcast? I think the only intelligent thing to say these days is, “I’m watching TikiBar” and describe the content directly.

  6. I think Old & New both will live. But they will change their form & change their dissemination strategy. Old & New media will exist because the percentage of the poor & The rich two r growing….. that will give life the old media.

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