Old vs. news: I

Old vs. news: I
: Yesterday, by fate — or kismet — I attended two panel discussions at NYU that tried to see what’s next for media from two perspectives: the past and the future.

As I mentioned below, I was on a panel for MBA students from across the country called “Beyond the Printed Page.” Some heavyweights — Kelly Conlin, president of Primedia; Bruce Hallett, president of Sports Ilustrated, Paul Rossi, publisher of Ecnomist.com; Thomas Carley, president of NYTimes News Services — shared their valuable experience with extending their products, brands, and revenue in the internet, TV, and such.

At the end, Eric Garland, the moderator, asked the obligatory question about the fate of print. We’d all been joking that the students — faced with a choice of sexier panels about music, TV, and children’s entertainment — wouldn’t show up for dusty old print (many did). So Garland cued the whither-print discussion. Hallett said that these are not mature businesses and are still developing and growing; the rest nodded.

I’d said earlier that we are in for a fundamental restructuring — with an endless supply of content that could be viewed as competition or, better, as a new source of diverse viewpoints and deeper relationships; I did my citizens’-media boogie (you’ve watched that dance before so I’ll spare you).

And as I left, I got email from Jay Rosen saying that he and Anil Dash would be speaking to a group at the NYU Law School on how weblogs are changing the world (I blogged it, below). Jay talked eloquently, as always, on the fundamental restructuring of content. There was a lot of excitement about the Iranian and Iraqi bloggers. The place buzzed.

When I got home, I told my wife about it over dinner and said it was a rather stark contrast: old v. new, big v. small, drone v. buzz. She nodded but also chuckled and said it’s too bad there’s no money in this blog thing. She’s right (she always is).

And so now it hits me that the big boys aren’t going to take this phenomenon seriously until they see its economic power. They’ll think it’s cute that citizens’ media powered Howard Dean or will power revolution in Iran. But what they care about is money.

They will notice when a Denton steals an advertiser from them or shows up in market research as a better competitor or sells his company to one of them for a few mil.

It’s about money. If we want this new medium to be taken seriously and if we want it to get the resources it needs to develop with more tools and talent, then we do need to get serious about money (which means, among many other things, creating standards for measuring the size of the medium).

I don’t want to see the buzz of the second panel turn into the drone of the first (that will come in a generation or two). I just want to see the buzz grow.