The Big Thaw is a “box set” with three volumes that can be used separately. Click here to download a volume of this report, or use the below index to read excerpts from each volume.
Welcome to The Big Thaw
An introduction to The Big Thaw from Media Consortium project director Tracy Van Slyke.
Vol. 1: Dissonance & Opportunity (includes Executive Summary)
This volume summarizes journalism’s old paradigm and outlines a strategic framework for independent media to build a shared vision for the future.
Charting a New Future: An Executive Summary
Journalists and independent media makers have always been society’s most valuable truthtellers. As the old system shuts down, how can media organizations use this crisis as an opportunity rather than a meltdown?
Building an Adaptive Strategy
To make sense of the new realities of journalism, we must identify strategic responses to a game that has already changed considerably. This post explains the Strategic Dissonance Model, which demonstrates what happens when industries change.
Two Causes of Dissonance
To turn strategic dissonance into action, we must identify its causes. This post analyzes the changing dynamics across the two overlapping axes of what we call the “Adaptive Strategy Matrix.”
Journalism’s Old Paradigm: Resistance and Denial
One of the biggest barriers to changing an organization or field is leaders’ inability to shed the paradigm from which it arose, which is a deeply held set of shared beliefs and practices about how the world works. Why journalism leaders have resisted—or denied—the paradigm shift.
Journalism’s Old Paradigm: Are We Facing a Glacier or a Flood?
While changes to the news industry advanced at a glacial pace for many years, transition often comes as quickly as the levees that broke in New Orleans. Media organizations must answer two questions in order to survive the paradigm shift.
Vol. 2: New & Emerging Realities
This volume analyzes in-depth the media industry’s current realities and compares them to journalism’s old paradigm. It also examines how independent media organizations can adapt to the changes around them.
Journalism’s New and Emerging Realities
The new competitive landscape requires media organizations to develop new competencies to succeed. Finding new ways to meet users’ needs and desires will be the sources of value that drive new business models. This post details the four questions about new industry realities that reveal opportunities for change.
New Abundances and Their Effects
New abundances have turned the economics of distribution on its head. This post explains the effects of abundances of information and independent voices.
New Scarcities and Their Effects
The new scarcities include time, money, attention and reputation. Publishers must find other ways to maintain users’ attention online, and for journalism organizations, building a stronger reputation could be particularly valuable.
Device Proliferation, Convergence & Their Effects
The challenge today comes from the tremendous number of devices that people use. Convergence is not only about creating different content for different platforms, but also about enabling people to easily consume and share any type of content using any platform.
Dawn of a Demographic Revolution
Shifting demographics create both challenges and opportunities for content producers: Different groups use media in different ways. This post explains the effects of diversity and the millennial generation on how media organizations engage audiences.
Declining Institutional Control and Affiliations
Many people today do not depend on institutions in the same way. This has forced media organizations to compete in a more decentralized, open environment.
Mirage of the Long Tail
The concept of the “Long Tail,” popularized by Chris Anderson at Wired, has become the basis for countless business models. This post explains the power of “power law” and the value of the Long Tail.
Cyber-cascades and Superdistribution
If independent media can strategically innovate, the sector can leverage its existing audience to become first movers of new technologies and platforms that will inevitably emerge. This post defines what cyber-cascades and superdistribution mean for independent media.
New Competencies: What New Capabilities are Needed to Succeed?
The new competitive landscape requires media organizations to develop new competencies as they shift from the old to the new paradigm.
Getting Serious About Community
Community building could become a new competitive advantage that would require journalists to adapt in various ways.
This post is a highlight of Vol. 2’s analysis on strategic technology, including being multiplatform, merging roles of journalist and technologist, low-cost innovations, and tightly integrated functions.
Counterintuitive Ways of Working
Counterintuitive ways of doing business and producing content may seem even more risky, but they can also be the biggest game changers.
The new competencies will help media organizations succeed in the new competitive environment. As a result, traditional roles will shift and overlap. These changes threaten many people’s jobs, pensions and familiar ways of working. Yet, organizations that can successfully make the transition will succeed.
New Sources of Value
An introduction to Chapter 3, Vol.2, this post outlines the emerging sources of value that media organizations can capture.
Progressive Ideas Vs. “My Ideas”
The new political and media environment has caused progressive media organizations to reevaluate their identity and tactics. Content’s value is is increasingly determined by how it relates to “my ideas” or progressive ideas.
Now is the Time for Immediacy
For journalism organizations to stay afloat, they will need to design faster ways to report news and emotionally engage users while maintaining quality.
Solving Filter Failure
Publishers are increasingly concerned about “information overload,” and some believe that technology has made this worse. This post explains how to use metadata to find content, for content to find users, and to solve “filter failure.”
From Using Users to a Conversation Economy
With the proliferation of inexpensive production and publishing tools and do-it-yourself movements, everyone can consider themselves an expert.
From Audiences to Communities
Insight on how to best build communities and capture enough value from them to run a media organization.
New Business Models
As the sources of value and the competitive landscape have changed, so have the business models that are mostly likely to succeed. An introduction to Chapter 4, Vol. 2, this post introduces the new business models.
Emerging Operation Models and Cost Structures
As large journalistic institutions shrink, salaries will inevitably decline and journalists will also have to produce more and take on more than reporting multifaceted. Media organizations that figure out how to do more with less will likely win.
Emerging Revenue Models
Media outlets still need to find new ways to generate revenue. This post outlines different models for creating revenue.
Micropayment and Micro-fundraising from Users
A discussion of the idea of news as a “loss leader,” a product sold below costs to create other sales.
Getting More From Advertising
Advertising still has great potential to generate the resources that independent media-makers need to have a much greater impact, as well as reach new audiences. Three opportunities stand out as ways to get more from online advertising.
Vol. 3: The Future?
This volume surfaces key uncertainties to consider and future possibilities that may further change the game in coming years.
Will Philanthropy Adjust its Role?
As philanthropists use their capital in smart ways to improve social capital markets, they can build a stronger ecosystem to grow independent media. A big question is “How can they integrate these funding areas more strategically?”
What Will Commercial Media and Technology Companies Do?
Big companies will continue to support many new independent voices if they find profitable business models in doing so. If they pull back, it could ultimately hurt independent media.
What Role Will Government Play?
If government officials had the will, they could support the public value of media in many ways besides loosening up anti-trust regulations for failing newspapers. How far they will go remains to be seen.
An introduction to the next series of posts in Vol.3, this post poses important questions for independent media to consider as it shapes the future and nine possible trends that could further change the game.
Location Aware Mobile
Mobile devices’ ability to detect a user’s exact location will revolutionize how we find, discover, create and interact with information.
As mobile and multisensory devices proliferate and alternative economies grow, media organizations will find the best path forward by following its users.
Video is quickly overtaking the web. Although people are consuming more information than ever before, they are reading less. The impact of text will decline further because of an emerging multisensory web.
Mass Mobile Media
The use of mobile phones has reached unprecedented levels worldwide, but this is only the beginning. As mobile devices become faster, cheaper, and more user-friendly, mobility will increasingly become a factor in everything on the web.
In the future, journalists will not simply report news for news’ sake; they will call readers to be problem solvers who think critically and iteratively with each other.
Radical New Ways of Meaning-Making and Filtering
The next phase of filtering will center on the evolution of the “Semantic Web,” an interactivity evolution a step beyond aggregation that aims to makes information more meaningful and useful. Metadata is only the beginning.
Will there be a new demand for quality journalism?
Information becomes expensive when it is based on scarcities. One emerging scarcity may be the quality of investigative reporting. A consortium can help break “conceptual scoops.” Perhaps with standardized measure of influence and reach, money will flow back to the media organizations that did the hard work of unearthing the stories.
New Value Chain of Journalism
Journalism’s old value chain was delineated with clear roles and exchanges of value. The new value chain reflects more roles.
Creating a greater distribution of value
As more reliable and commonly accepted metrics emerge to measure content performance, the more that organizations can estimate the value they create. This post discusses metrics for engagement and social impact.
The American Way
If Americans believe that the strength of our democracy depends on a diverse and free press, we need a new paradigm for journalism to thrive.
Slideshow: The Big Thaw
The slide show is a compendium to The Big Thaw. We pulled out the most thought-provoking information and implications for independent media.
Journalism’s Main Priorities in 2010 (And 10 Resolutions)
A compilation of the five most important areas that journalism organizations (and those invested in the future of journalism) must tackle in 2010—and some initial steps to begin moving forward.
This blog is an index of posts from The Big Thaw, a guide to the evolution of independent media, written by Tony Deifell of Q Media Labs and produced by The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets. Learn how your organization can use this report. For more information and recommendations from the study, click here.