Legacy media hates digital, but they have no choice
Dec 13, 2011
Traditional media struggles to adapt to the digital world, hindering their integration and facing an inevitable collision with social media.
They were not just any people. Far from it. Maurice Levy is the Like a Boss of Publicis, one of the three largest advertising revenues in the world (€850 million profit last year). Another is the boss of WPP, a media giant whose list of properties would not fit in a hundred lines. They, among several others, revealed in a Reuters article a stated aversion to social media. It wouldn't be a problem at all - social media can be quite annoying depending on the criteria you had when setting up your contacts network. But since these executives command most of the media revenue in the world, it adds another piece to the puzzle of reasons why major media groups struggle so much with entering the digital world.
Put yourself in the position of a successful executive in their 60s who suddenly finds themselves dealing with the excess interaction of social media. I don't blame them for not having the patience for the information anxiety described by Richard Wurman. However, they have a serious handicap in the evolutionary timeline of the media. Because they always did what they wanted, given the infinite power of the old media, they think it is possible to challenge digital integration. As they no longer have patience for novelties, they do not understand that there is nothing to do. The digital comet is on a collision course with the planet of old media and the shock will be explosive, hard and dramatic. Better: it is already happening. Is there a way out?
Without the fall of the Ancient Regime, no. The business model established today, which involves the media megacorporations, the power politics within these companies, the incestuous proximity with the power of the State and advertisers, or, even more incestuous, the traditional advertising agencies, the work relations, the modus operandi of the newsrooms, the news cycles, the internal division of the companies for one division not to harm another (example: the site not taking audience from the TV), the relationship with the audience (and their participation). Everything is undergoing a process of change at the foundations and a small bureaucratic adjustment is not enough to fix it. Companies have spent hundreds of millions of reais in investment in their digital divisions (as happened with a large and important Brazilian group in recent years), but they are not successful because their hierarchical structures do not want any change that takes away the power from the current holders - who are like the barons of groups like WPP, Publicis and Hachette, mentioned in the Reuters article.
It won't work. The generational exchange, this time, is not simply the replacement of father for son, but a deeper change. Still referring to the French Revolution, there is a caste that sees its power slipping through their hands and is increasing the pressure to continue to have it, but the process is impossible to stop or reverse. All periods with a paradigm shift are traumatic and this one will be too, as a good friend of mine, an exceptional journalist, well observed. The answers about how the new scenario will be will be given gradually and those who seek them will have advantages in the end. Those who try to stop history will experience the process with an "extra" trauma, in addition to the already scheduled one.