After reading your recent article comparing Social Media with Main Stream Media, I feel I should write to set a couple of things straight.
Before I address the points you make in your article I'd like make a couple of my own.
- Social Sites like Twitter and Facebook by themselves will not replace Main Stream Media. They're not trying to. Hell they love Main Stream Media because it gives people something to talk about on their networks, thus driving more revenue through advertising.
- Main Stream Media will always be with us. What might not always be with us is the current business models (Broadcast TV and Newspapers are already facing real challenges to their relevance).
Sorry Richard but your article really does come off as a bit of a "Get off my lawn you damn kids!" screed. Cursing these young whippersnappers with their hippity hoppity and their jeans around their knees. Why don't they get real jobs and a haircut while they're at it!
Social media sites are vying to become the place where conversation happens. These conversations can be about anything, whether it's your favourite TV Show (Packed to the Rafters by the way has a Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/pttrs which seems pretty active), sport (say Mountain Biking) or whatever. Conversations that would normally happen the next day at work, are now happening in real time while the thing is occuring. This helps to promote MSM and provides another way to unite its viewers behind it.
What will threaten Main Stream Media as we know it is the inability to recognise change when its happening. Much like the Labor party in NSW have been circling the wagons against the coming changes to their industries rather than trying to move with them, and much like the NSW Labor party they really do risk being reduced to a rump while the new players, the more nimble players step up and fill the void. Just like King Ludd, they'll eventually be pushed aside and left behind.
Change is occuring in the media market, there isn't any doubt about it. New technologies have already changed the way people are consuming their news and media needs. Ask your employer, the ABC, where they see the direction of the media environment heading. They have invested the time and resources needed to ensure that they can make the transition in time with the consumers. iView, podcasting and sites like the Drum mean that as the tech advances and the people adapt, the ABC is able to keep up.
You say that Thank God It's Friday recently celebrated its 5000th podcast subscriber and you compare that to the 130,000 radio listeners you get every week. I'd like to put it to you another way. Those 5000 subscribers (of which I am one by way) represent 5000 people who wouldn't otherwise be listening to your programme (instead of 130,000 listeners, you have 135,000 listeners), and by the sounds of it the number is growing. Your show is Sydney based, however through podcasting and online streaming you have a reach far beyond your original market. This is the power of the intarwebs.
Yes the social media scene is full of SMEGs (Social Media Expert Gurus), it's a new industry, little understood and as such tends to attract it's share of shysters. People who claim that if you just put up a Facebook page or if you just open a twitter account you're going to be reaping in the bazillions are morons who I have no time for. However (and this is an important however) there is a reason why social sites are called social. They enable that most basic desire of the human being. To communicate with others, to be social. Human beings being social hasn't changed with the advent of these sites, what has changed is the size and shape of their social circles.
I'd really recommend that you talk to people in the ABC like Mark Colvin, Latika Bourke who use social media to augment and expand their MSM programmes and services. I'm sure they'll tell you that they've never seen a more retched hive of scum and villainy, but that the value that they get out of it outweighs the issues they've been having.