How Caribbean Media Content Is Being Disrupted By Digital

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - July 24, 2014

By Marcia Forbes, PhD
CJ Contributor

What is Content?

The much maligned but highly useful Wikipedia defines content creation as:

“the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media for an end-user/audience….”

Today, content comes in many shapes and flavours. Digital media often blend with and overlay traditional media forms with styles and approaches made possible by new media tools. Digital technologies and tools have fashioned a virtual paradise for the creators of media content.

New Technologies & Tools

These technologies and tools have totally revolutionized all aspects of content creation, distribution and acquisition, whether this content is created for traditional TV, radio and newspapers or online for new media.

The digital domain has changed how we think about content as well as even what gets defined as content. Who would have thought of ring tones and phone screen wallpapers as content? Think about it.

A few key technological features of the digital era relate directly to content creation:

1) The invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee. The World Wide Web was layered on to the already existing Internet, and then came the rise of broadband with high speed Internet.

2) The convergence of communication technologies and miniaturization later brought about the mobile Internet.

3) Social Networks along with other concurrent developments led to the release of information and content creation from the shackles of old media such as books, newspapers, radio, free-to-air and cable TV, bounded by paper or wires. Today it’s a paperless, wireless, mobile world!

Humans/Audiences

On the human side, those we media practioners refer to as ‘audiences’ have also been greatly influenced by content-creating digital media technologies. These technologies facilitate a closer bond with ‘audiences’ who can now talk back and actively engage with media entities.

Social TV is a real thing that is driving audiences to TV. We watch and tweet. Thursday nights on Twitter is a ‘Scandal’ with social TV taking centre stage.

The availability of digital technologies has driven new ways of thinking, new types of behaviours and new expectations from audiences. They have also led to the birth of the ‘Connection Economy’, with increased value in sharing, collaborating and social networking.

Content creators should never forget that whatever they create will be used or consumed by people. At all times, therefore, content creators should keep the end-user in mind. It’s all about people!

When it comes to business, today’s end-users expect a businesses’ online and offline profile to be in synch, thereby creating an End to End Connected Experience. This means that traditional media must ensure that their content convey similar brand messages for their online as well as their offline offerings.

Disrupting Roles & Business Models

No aspect of media has been spared from disruption as digital technologies change many of the roles as well as business models of traditional media. Processes have been disrupted and barriers to entry have tumbled with online versions of every type of traditional media.

Today there is Internet Radio, Online Newspapers and Internet TV. Traditional Cable TV is being mercilessly savaged by cord-cutters such as Netflix, Roku. Cut out the wires, come to us online, is what they seem to be saying.

Disrupting Old Rules for Programming & Scheduling

Online Streaming is all the rage. Entire seasons of popular programmes such as House of Cards are available online for binge viewing. The Internet is challenging the old rules regarding TV programming and scheduling. And to ‘rub salt in open wound’, these upstart online TV series are winning ratings and getting awards.

Every form of media is migrating from offline to online. The Internet is the new business frontier and spawning new types of media businesses. But remember, every online business offers new opportunities for content creators

We are no longer restricted to narrow bounds of content being what we carry on radio, TV or in newspapers but have expanded to new media with all sorts of interesting ways of creating a wide variety of contents and for sharing them via more digital platforms than most of us can keep track of.

Get To It!

Loopjamaica.com, a recently launched online ‘newspaper’ (with domain site registered to regional telecoms giant Digicel), along with this Web site, the Caribbean Journal (www.caribjournal.com), billed as the “Caribbean’s leading digital newspaper, with 24/7, original content….” and “the World’s most-read website covering the Caribbean” are what some in traditional media may describe as ‘upstarts’.

Time will tell, but both seem set to hold their own.

I invite traditional media practioners to reimagine the business landscape and to be agile with their business models. Seek out opportunities to repurpose and distribute content across multiple platforms and devise strategies to be established as thought-leaders in their industry. My message to them is, ‘Get to it and get with it!’

Dr Marcia Forbes, a Caribbean Journal contributor, is a media specialist, the co-owner of multimedia production company Phase 3 Productions Ltd and Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Caribbean Institute of Media & Communication, University of the West Indies, Mona. She is the author of Music, Media & Adolescent Sexuality in Jamaica and the recently-released Streaming: Social Media, Mobile Lifestyles.

Follow Dr Marcia Forbes on Twitter: @marciaforbes

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