The Guardian Dialogues

by on July 8, 2009 at 9:23 am

Last night, The Guardian featured three of our Traveling Geeks (Robert Scoble, Sarah Lacy, JD Lasica) on stage with British counterparts for a lively discussion on the demise of the newspaper as we know it and the emergence of Twitter and other less “professional” upstarts as seen by conventional media outlets.

This is a tired argument. Perhaps Sarah Lacy said it best in her wonderfully witty way, ” Maybe we should just shut down the newspapers now and avoid the ordeal of watching the slow death.” JD chimed in that it is like “Shooting dinosaurs in a barrel.” Robert, Sarah and JD each suggested that media companies must change to survive and perhaps incorporate social media, Twittering, and more democratic means of information gathering and distribution into their economic model. Basically, change or die was the message.

However, this topic is fairly narrow. While media journalists are clearly concerned about their own paychecks and pensions, this is much bigger than just whether the Guardian and other print media can survive (the moderator even had the Chutzpah to single out our own Craig Newmark and tongue-in-cheek accuse Craig of deliberately eliminating newspaper classifieds, which had been a honey pot for newspapers).

The Barbarians are at the Gates in every sector of the communications industry. Advertising agencies are being decimated by the Google model, Encyclopedias and paid resource media have been annihilated by Wikipedia, Network television conglomerates have been supplanted by Cable subscription channels and digital narrowcasting, and the movie studios are enraged by You Tube and other web sources to download feature films outside the movie theatres, on and on with the music industry and I-Tunes , etc.

In other words, the journalism industry is not unique in its economic viability being challenged. The Internet/digital media content delivery model is not just a hiccup, but a tectonic shift. Our Traveling Geeks are players and informed commentators  in that shift.

We are here in Britain to both listen and engage with our counterparts. So far, it has been a great ride.