Journalism's from Mars, Social Media's from Venus – Takeaway from Ogilvy Open Room

Attended the Ogilvy Open Room discussion on Journalism’s from Mars, Social Media’s from Venus aka Traditional Media VS New Media. It is a dangerous move to put journalists and bloggers in the same room and provide free flow beer. Luckily, we didn’t see any flying bottles or chairs. But we had a great discussion. I wish there could be more time so that more points can be brought out. But I guess we can save some for other days. Here are some of the things that are being discussed (during the panel discussion and networking) and my thoughts about it.
Business model for new media. There was a lot of discussion on business model for new media and how to make money from blogging. But after lots of discussion, there still isn’t any perfect solution to this. I took the mic at this point and did a simple survey to see how many bloggers in the room are actually interested in business model for their blog. Only 2 or 3 raised their hands. The fact is, most bloggers aren’t interested in business model for their blog because they aren’t using it to earn a living. Most bloggers blog because of passion. Because they want to express their opinion. It doesn’t matter if they can’t earn a living out of blogging. If there is a few advertorial, that will be extra money for a few more bottles of beer. But the scenario is different for traditional media or a company when they enter social media. They need to talk about business model and profit margins. But that is, in my own opinion, their problem. Bloggers aren’t interested in business model for blogging. In actual fact, even if we are interested, sad to say, there isn’t any. At least not in Singapore’s landscape where the population is so small. There isn’t a lot of money to be made in blogging. Instead of looking at new media as a form of revenue generation, we should look at it as a medium to complement our existing business model.
Another question being raised is will you pay for Newspaper. Some of the attendees say they would. Personally, I won’t. There are so many ways to get news online for free nowadays. You can visit news website like CNA, CNN, Today Online and Mypaper (just to name a few). Or you can get news update from forums, wikipedia, blogs and twitter. In fact, all these options has one benefit compared to newspaper. Newspaper is only delivered to you the next day while website are able to publish the news within hours. So why should I be paying for yesterday’s news when I can get today’s news free?
Someone mentioned that new media is not reliable source of information. This is a very unfair accusation. I do agree that there are some people who misused the new media and post fake or unreliable stuff. But just because someone uses scenes from LOST and claim that they are final footage from Air France Flight 447 doesn’t mean that the new media is unreliable. There are newspapers and tabloids in the traditional media. Can I also claim that the traditional media is a unreliable source after reading the Hillsborough Disaster report by The Sun? Of cos not! You need to look at the source of the information before you can make judgement. And just like the traditional media, the new media also have it’s share of “Tabloids”. It will be unfair to pick those anonymous or “tabloids” new media users and claim that new media is unreliable. There are lots of reliable blog out there in the blogosphere. Stop reading new media tabloids. And by the way, most reputable bloggers out there aren’t anonymous anymore.
Someone also mentioned that bloggers don’t have the right contacts for news. I have to disagree with this claim. Some bloggers are slowly building their contacts. Companies and PR agencies are engaging bloggers nowadays. These people are the contacts they need if there is anything about a company or product they need to enquire for a blog article. So who says bloggers don’t have the right contacts? And bear in mind that bloggers usually works alone or in a small group where else journalists usually have a team supporting them.
Will traditional media die one day? My answer is no. There are several traditional media closing down and converting to web based in the States. But that is for the States where there are many newspaper agencies in the country. Some of the traditional media might close down, but not all. The existing business model for traditional media is dying. In order to stay alive, traditional media need to re-look into their old business model which hasn’t been changed for the past 100 plus years. The environment has changed a lot since the invention of print media. The old business model might not be able to survive for long. Times has changed. Traditional media need to innovate and explore other form of revenue generation. And I’m very sure that some of the traditional media will move to a new business model before the existing business model completely collapse. Don’t ask me what is the new business model for the traditional media. If I know, I would have already send my resume to one of the traditional media already.
End of the day, I feel that Traditional Media and New Media should co-exist. Some might think that traditional media will die and new media will take over. Sorry, even though I’m a passionate new media user, I don’t see this day coming anytime soon. I think new media can complement the traditional media. The media scene is big enough for both traditional media and new media to co-exist and provide view points from different angles. It’s meaningless to debate who is better. Instead, why not look into how the two media can cooperate?
Thanks to the Ogilvy Digital Influence team for the invite. It was a great discussion.


  1. Interestingly, this discussion happened just hours before Michael Jackson passed away.
    Social media is all aflutter with news of his passing. This morning’s newspapers still have no news on it, and for a reason.
    But does this mean I won’t read the papers? No. I like the depth of analysis and objectivity that traditional media provides.
    As someone pointed out about “commodity” news in the Open Room – these days, no one will pay for that. But I would pay for well-written, insightful content with interesting perspectives.
    But what happens if one day, some segments of social media can provide that as well?
    Food for thought.

  2. Daniel: Its already happening. Look at Engadget, Mashable, The Online Citizen, Global Voices etc etc. All of them are providing well written insightful content. And more will come.

  3. And speaking of Michael Jackson’s death, its no surprised that I first got the news thru Twitter trend. Breaking news no longer come from TV and Radio. It can come from Twitter, facebook, blog or just an email from a friend. Times has changed.

  4. I see that traditional media has “missed” out in the sudden shift to new media. Despite the fact that they are trying (very hard) to rip crumbs of the pie, they have plenty to catch up. E.g. STOMP is an attempt to catch up with social networking sites that took over by storm. However, STOMP is well… (i shall reserve my comments on that).
    The fact that movies, news, books, advertorials, TV shows, and all stuffs that can be flashed on screen, ARE already flourishing in the new media. Who cares the late runners like,… tad too late, i must say.
    Yes, Straits Times on paper, is still very much alive, and there’re plenty who are still cool with paying for physical newspapers, pretty much because of habits as we all belong to the digital migrants.
    However, if I’m the boss of SPH, Kinokuniya, Golden Village, HMV “I’ll be sleepless over the sustaining the biz” because future generations (or the current younger youths) are born in the age when their first toy is a handphone, a mouse, or a computer. I quote the above, from my professor. 🙂 They don’t need newspapers anymore. They don’t need physical books anymore, cos there’s Kindle, don’t need to go cinemas, can easily purchase movies online, and download songs.
    An interesting example will be Sony and iPod. Sony (during my time) had all along been the forerunners of portable music. Who gives shit about apple (that’s meant to be eaten). However, cos Sony was too hung up over preventing piracy = mp3, they miss the shift entirely to iPod and iTunes. So what we see now, is Sony uncle, trying to run after the change of music industry.
    The above doesn’t entirely represent my view. I learned that in class… and I thought it’s really cool. Lol

  5. great post dk.
    I used to be in PR in a relatively senior position (not boasting, just so that you can put my comments in context) and a point I would like to add is that even PR firms, and this includes ALL the big boys, have been very very very slow in getting their social media act together. This was my pet peeve for a couple of years but the global bosses while they agreed, couldn’t do anything about it.
    What PR firms encounter is that traditional PR gurus and honchos are too set in their ways with traditional media (old age maybe? and old in PR terms is the same as in advertising terms >40yrs) and while they are not resistant to learning about new or social media (in fact they are very enthusiastic about it), don’t seem to quite grasp it at the end of the day, which frankly is not their fault cos these are the same generation that also never quite grasped Powerpoint slides, advanced Word processing, Facebook and Twitter.
    So you get a bunch of senior consultants who privately admit that they don’t really get it. What to do? Hire.
    So you hire staff who do get social media to head up the dept. And then you realise that they are all very young. And while they might be brilliant in their own way, their inexperience holds the dept back. Frankly, any PR firm’s social media head probably only has 3-4 years experience in social media at the MAX cos thats how long new/social media commerical engagement has been around for.
    Its really nobody’s fault and the upside is that things can only get better as more engagement continues and the market (PR firms, bloggers, traditional media, companies) matures.

  6. The problem with the view that it is not worth buying a newspaper because news is available online for free is that that free news available online is EXPENSIVE to produce well. If no one is willing to pay for it in some avenue, if there is no new business model to pay for it, then good investigative reporting (hell good reporting period with a full fact checking process) is not going to be able to be produced. There are some great interviews with top journalists about the future of journalism at,com_sectionex/Itemid,200076/id,8/view,category/#catid69 which I have found a great source for these issues.

  7. with response to Darrel:
    The key reason as to why traditional practices are reluctant to change, because it is COSTLY to change.
    Note that revolutionary stuffs like twitter started with a niche market with basically little or no infrastructure. There’s nothing for them to reverse. Afterall they are creating new stuffs.
    However, looking at the idea of Path Dependency. The model of the traditional businesses are already in place. For Media especially, it means almost total reverse of their practices, when they are highly dependent on it, (Systems, People, Company processes).
    Hence, they are extremely reluctant to change. It’ll be an extremely daring thing to do. It’s like, schools used to lay cables for LAN connection… when it’s no longer in use now, since they have to spend on wireless… But the cost is already there for installing the LAN connections, and it’ll take more cost to remove them. This simple move of reversal is already quite unwelcomed, but there’s nothing much the companies can do…
    That’s why mocca and podcast and whatever the traditional media is trying to do and advertise…
    In my personal view, it’s already pointless… cos they miss the critical point. What they can do, is to either ride on the existing platforms, and plan new models and processes that can easily shift to fit the new wave (that will be coming soon).
    If not, they have to innovate to think of revolutionary stuffs… that’s up and new from facebook etc.
    But by now, we should all acknowledge, why we lack innovators cos the culture of locals, has this deeply-ingrained fear of losing. It’s very expensive to lose… even once.
    .-= Shan´s last blog ..President Obama’s Speech in Cairo: A New Beginning =-.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *