The up hill battle of embracing new media?

This is so weird, I was reading through Ben Metcalfe's Massive Rant about the BBC news away day at the same time as hearing about the Breaking news about the Toronto Air Crash and followed by the BBC. But started thinking how different Bens experience of his away day compares to my World Service away day (which to be fair was within a new media team). But slowly this entry turns into a realization that his observations are actually not that far off from my own. Ben sums up with this which I'm in two minds about.

So life goes on. Us ‘new media’ folk continue to push the boundaries and the ‘old media’ folk continue prop up the established broadcast mediums. On the outside we try and look like we’re all connected and know what each other are doing. And most of the time it works – we appear to be a progressive organisation working together in harmoney. Inside people like myself are desparatly trying to pull the old guard, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century.

The rest of my entry…

At which point I was effectively ostracised by the group as to these people it all appeared too radical, too unfamiliar (and probably too scary).

In my own experience, few idea are too radical and if unfamilar people will ask futher questions till it relates to something they have experience of. Even in future brainstorming sessions with language services which tend to be Radio focused. They really push the ideas out there and demand more experiences like how they use the internet.

However, it was clear how threatened most of them felt. Here was a medium they barely understood, with behaviours and opportunities they had no comprehension of, being communicated to them by someone who, for a few of them, had lived for fewer years than they had worked at the BBC.

I have not seen much of this in my away day but I know exactly what Ben means in other aspects of my work life. Miles always said the great divide going into the near future is not those with or without net access. Its those who get it and those who dont. Honestly its worrying because those who dont are really holding back those ideas from those who do. I wont go into details but just recently I had a large discussion about tagging vs categorisation. I'm fine with having such a discussion but you need to understand or at least tried both sides of the coin to really get it. So generally tagging will never be taken seriously by the old media people because they dont get Flickr, dont get social software, emergence, etc. It kind of makes things really difficult when suggesting new ideas and ways forward which really could benefit our audience.

It is quite disapointing just how much they don’t ‘get it’; that they assume that only “professional old school news people” can come up with these ideas and as such further assume no one else outside of a news background might have already thought of such an idea.

I get this all the time, but on a different take. During 7/7 (london bombs) I checked out Flickr, Googlenews, Yahoonews, the BBC, wikinews and technorati. Most of those sources are out side of the professional old school news media. Some of the people who say they get it [Type 3 if were going by Ben's observations], actually dont ever consider looking any where different. They claim to be forward thinking but turn there back on new media when push comes to shove. Ben uses the word Embrace and I really think this is key. Its like applying rock and roll values to dance music, there maybe room for overlap but you need to embrace it to truely understand it – get it!

What’s dangerous is that they tend to want to apply their old media values to it rather than embrace the already established culture of openness, freedom of expression and equality that is so much more apparent on the Internet than in the traditional broadcast industry. (This is, of course, nothing new as we’ve seen this elsewhere – for example the music and film industry taking on p2p)

Exactly… The question is where we go from now? The example of someone moving around to get experience of other professionalism is a good way forward and I would suggest that you do not need to leave your job to do so. I'm sure I'm not revelaing any World Service secrets but the attachment scheme basicly allows people to move around the world service without forsaking there jobs. I'm sure the attachment scheme isnt unique to the world service but for it to work there needs to be an embracement. Luckly there seems to be a lot more of that from where I'm sitting.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.