Why MSM Are Afraid of Blogs–and Should Be

They say the blogosphere is about the conversation. Well, an interesting business conversation has been going on since Thursday. That’s when Mr. Tom Glocer, CEO of Reuters gave the Keynote Address in London to the Online Publishers Association. According to the Guardian UK, Mr Glocer warned the “old media” that they needed to know their own worth and be prepared to change or they’d lose out of the online pie. Mr. Glocer’was quoted.

I believe the world will always need editing,” he said. “Just because everyone has the potential to publish their own blog, doesn’t mean they’re all worth reading. The role of companies like ours is to edit and filter, and provide open tools for the audience. The good stuff will float to the top.

Nothing patronizing there, Mr. Glocer. I’ve worked for a few publishers. Your experience seems to be different from mine. Where I worked, as a rule, the good stuff was many places besides the top.

The Reuter’s CEO, Mr. Glocer, went on.

Protectionism doesn’t work, but neither does total surrender. As media companies, we now have access to a rich world of sources. Let’s not turn away from the potential of all of this, but understand it and unlock it.

Gee, that makes me feel all grown-up and warm inside. I didn’t know the Old Media owned the keys to the world. Could I have a quarter to buy a candy bar?

Mr Glocer went on to say that the role of old media should be that of content facilitator, tools provider, editor, and go-between providing structure to the information between supplier and the consumer–even if they are the same people.

I guess that’s because we can’t figure out how to talk to each other.

In other words, Mr Glocer, you’re happy to let blogs have a space in the media world as long as everyone understands that old media will still run the show?

Richard MacManus on Next Generation Web and Media at first found this speech left him breathless, and then came back to earth because of Eran Globen’s post, which said that the old media has always been seeding clouds; we don’t want them interloping; and the editing will take care of itself in time.

Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine says Reuters gets it, and to Jarvis’ credit, he was there. But . . .

Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 completely disagrees with Jeff Jarvis and everyone (and there were lots of everyones) saying that Tom Glocer has fooled them into thinking he is on their side. Mr. Karp points out, rightfully I think that Glocer’s points are a formula for more of the same–old media as it already exists. Perpetuating the entrenchment, that’s he calls it. Scott Karp is 100% right.

Scott Karp goes on to add that blogging has two out of three parts–Media+Web longing for a economic paradigm that includes Advertising/Audience. He’s upfront about not knowing how to build the rest of this economic model, but again he’s right. This is the key to where things need to go.

At the same time this conversation was going on, a man I like to think of as a friend was writing this.

Part of what makes the blogsophere such a perplexing challenge for mainstream media is this: it is not easily amenable to analysis using standard strategic management theories and analytical frameworks. Consider, for example, the problems that arise when one uses the most widely taught strategic management framework, Michael Porter’s Five Forces, to get a handle on the competitive threat posed by blogs. . . . that the determinants of profitability in an industry are explained by five “forces”- the power of suppliers; the power of buyers; barriers to entry; the degree of rivalry among incumbents; and the presence of substitutes.

When I say that blogs are perplexing, it is not just because they don’t fit neatly into any one of those five classes of determinants. The real problem, as I see it, is that they fit into all of them, at the same time. Blogs are new entrant, substitute, complement, and rival. They offset much of the power the MSM has traditionally had over its both buyers and its suppliers. Were blogs just any one of these things, they could be easily be squashed, co-opted, or marginalized. But they are not. Incumbent firms don’t see challenges and challengers like this everyday.
–David Starling, The Business of America is America

All of those people I read following the links on all of those blogs. Most of them weren’t doing more than passing on what had been said. . . . Two people brought something startling new to the conversation–Scott Karp and David Starling–they’re on opposite sides of the world and weren’t even responding to the same thing.

Boy, do I wish I could be in a room with the two of them.

How did the rest of them miss what Glocer was saying? Is this another elephant standing in the room?

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related articles:
Chicago Goes Wi-Fi . . . What Does that Mean to Business? Blogs Aren’t Mini-Websites. They’re Powerful Tools.
Blogs: The New Black in Corporate Communication


  1. says

    I’m involved with a publishing company right now, even they are unsure of the paper-publishing industry in the future.

    More and more, the power to write/publish/draw/filter content/etc. is being decentralized and given to the people. The ol’ days of the almighty publisher is about to end.

    To say that the old regime will edit and filter the good from the bad blogs is an elitist idea. Some books/blogs who were flunked by the major editors/publishers went on to sell millions. People have changing likes and dislikes–the old regime won’t be able to keep up with the changing pace. Some “bad blogs” (like mine) do garner some readership without the help of any publisher.

    With the right tools, anyone can be/do whatever they want in the internet. The tools that he wants to give has been available for download for years.

    I know you were also an editor/publisher once, but I’m glad you’re giving YOUR knowledge and experience for free.

    Thank you.

    “The world doesn’t need a gifted person, it needs a giving person.”

  2. says

    Hi taorist,
    Your insights are well said and hit the mark. The show just what Tom Glocer had all wrong. I don’t know why so many others didn’t see it.

    What the old media has right now is money (powe) and audience (more power), both come from what Scott Karp has pointed out as missing from the paradigm–the fact that we’ve not found a way to bring the Web/Message together in a form to reach the Audience in a way that attracts the advertisers . . . but it’s slowly happening–see Rocketboom.

    And everything online is exponential. It will happen WAY faster than the old media is prepared for, just as the new economy based on knowledge and cost-driven (rather than price-driven) has hit major corporations like GM.

    Your blog is a fine read, taorist. I wish you would no longer say sad things about it. Your readership will continue to grow because you offer something that the old media is starting to lose–authenticity as you become a stronger publisher, you will gain more of what they have . . . but what do they have to gain on you?


  3. says

    Great article Liz. The thing MSM don’t get,or more likely ignore, is the fact that in this new medium, the cream will find its own way to rise to the top. I don’t need an editor to decide for me what I want to read, I am quite capable to decide for myself, and so is everyone else. It does not matter if it is Music, Blogs, or TV, the barriers to entry have been removed, the content provider and the customer are now getting the resources to find each other. Old media does not run the show anymore, and they know it and thats what they have hard time dealing with.

  4. says

    Thanks Dave,
    I agree. Tom Glocer seems to think that you and I need him to helps us figure out what it is we need to read etc. I’m having trouble with that concept. I think that most people also would. If you think about it, it’s very close to the mindset that leads to people burning books.

    David Starling’s thinking was Peter Drucker good. Everyone of those MSM guys probably have their MBAs and had to read Peter Drucker in Business school. Maybe they should dust off their books.


  5. says

    hehe… and did you see the new motto that has just shown up over on Reuter’s web site?

    “Reuters.com – No Spin. No Agenda. Just the Facts. As they happen.”

    Speaks for itself, eh? Someone’s worried about their relevance, and it sure isn’t me :)

  6. says

    No Cary,
    I didn’t see that I’m going to have to go over and check that out. Certainly does speak for itself. eh? Seems like they know where Mr. Glocer went astray, even so many other folks bought what he had to say.

    Thanks so much for adding this to the conversation.


  7. says

    Oooooh! Liz finds my blog a “fine read”, can I use that as a testimonial for my blog? LOLZ!

    Seriously, the more one gives away power, the more one receives it. A paradox yes, but true.

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