As newspaper analyst Dave Morgan observed last year: “Ad revenue in most large newspaper markets will keep dropping 3-5% per year for the next five years. Real circulation — excluding the tons of papers dumped on schools, hotels and the constantly-churning “free ten-week trial” — will keep dropping 3-7% per year for the next five years.”
A good deal of user-generated content isn’t actually “content” at all, at least not in the sense of material designed for an audience. Instead, a lot of it is just part of a conversation.Mainstream media has often missed this, because they are used to thinking of any group of people as an audience. Audience, though, is just one pattern a group can exist in; another is community. Most amateur media unfolds in a community setting, and a community isn’t just a small audience; it has a social density, a pattern of users talking to one another, that audiences lack. An audience isn’t just a big community either; it’s more anonymous, with many fewer ties between users. Now, though, the technological distinction between media made for an audience and media made for a community is evaporating; instead of having one kind of media come in through the TV and another kind come in through the phone, it all comes in over the internet.
University of Florida new media professor Mindy McAdams chimed in:
Newspapers used to be centered in communities. Now they are mostly not. People in much of North America don’t even live in communities.Is this why newspapers are dying? Because there are no communities? …
It’s about what Shirky said: Audiences are not the same as communities, and communities are made up of people talking to one another.
What does a community need? How should journalists supply what communities need? …
This is what Front Porch Forum is all about… helping nearby neighbors stitch together community at the neighborhood level… in every neighborhood in a region. And, as Professor McAdams said above “People in much of North America don’t even live in communities.” And many want to.