Once upon a time, telling your story was determined by geography.
To tell a story, you needed to make a significant investment in equipment and technology. This meant that the greater the geographic coverage, the higher the financial costs. Beyond handing out leaflets at a downtown corner; the only effective way of telling a story was by using a large media institution like a newspaper or record label.
Reporters, musicians, writers, and even artists, had to sign themselves to a major organization in order to tell stories. Those companies, however, had rules about who, what, where, and when your stories could be told.
For those in the community, the situation wasn’t much different. They had to convince the media gatekeepers that their story was important.
So, what is so important about getting stories told?
Stories help create order and meaning out of the chaos of emotions, myths, and facts. Furthermore, an effectively told story can move people to action.
If no one knows your story, then no one cares.
Now, we have a brave new world of storytelling. The internet and the various social media tools have broken down the geographic barriers.
So, with all this change, how are we doing media differently?
If I were telling the story of new media, I would say four things have changed:
1.) DIY Storytelling
Storytelling is no longer dependent on large organizations to spread your story far and wide. The internet highway allows you to reach out to the world. The various social media tools like Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Vimeo, and various blog platforms like WordPress; allow you to package your stories in formats that are extremely accessible to audiences. The new technology allows you to create professional or semi-professional content at very affordable prices. Now, you can create and publish stories almost on par with traditional media outlets and in any format (word, imagine, or sound).
2.) The Reporter is the Brand.
As a reporter (or writer, musician, or artist), you are the Brand. You have the ability to establish a niche and then encourage the world to follow you. In the past, the Brand was established by the media outlets, and they control your ability to talk to the world. As a reporter, it was likely that the only people who cared about the name on the story was your editor and fellow reporters. Now, the audience can follow the reporter, musician, writer, or artist, and not the organization.
A good example is the song writer and singer, Kina Grannis. At first, Grannis used the Youtube to build an audience and hopefully attract the attention of a major recording label. She found that the most popular songs were the ones associated with a video. She used her Youtube following to drum up support for the 2008 Super-Bowl half-time contest where the winner would get a recording contract. Grannis won, but after a year she decided that she would have better success being independent.
3.) Crowd-source funding is the future.
Crowd-source funding first started in the film industry where artists were finding it difficult to get their financing by the film studios. Now, crowd-sourcing is spreading to other activities like the independent journalism of Joey Coleman.
There is a market for information about what City Hall is doing. Few people have the time or energy to go to all the meeting involved on any issue that is working its way through local government. Joey is now the eyes and ears of the community. Joey’s journalism is supported by periodic funding of small dollar donations by many people via the internet.
What works for Joey, could easily work for others. I could imagine a situation where a reporter wants to go to Syrian and provide daily coverage of war and human right abuses.
4.) You and Your Audience as Co-creators
Now, people want to be part of the action, they want behind the scenes access. When John Doyle writes an interesting column, I will immediately fire off a reply.
Look at the extensive discussions on Raise the Hammer. Often the comments and counter comments can be more informative than the original article.
A fan in the audience fires off a tweet to Lady Gaga and by the end of the show the fan is getting a reply.
The division between creator and the audience is disappearing. As a result, there is greater involvement and support for the artist or journalist.
In conclusion, I see great opportunity for the individual reporters, writers, musicians, or artists to tell stories to the world. This is what I believe has changed with the Media