What’s around us currently is the death of the old top-down model of making things happen through hierarchies, organisations and institutions, and the growth of the bottom-up model – collaborative people power and collective action.
On Friday I dipped my toe back in the choppy waters of media conference land for the first time in 4-5 years and spent an instructive afternoon in the HQ of News UK and listened in at Press Gazette’s Digital Journalism Summit.
What follows is a back-of-fag-packet exercise in thoughts and take-aways constructed in no particular order, in bed, on a Sunday morning.
First off a big congratulations to Dom Ponsford for not only having the balls to run a conference of that ilk, but also for filling the room with both paying attendees and decent speakers. And all at the home of NewsUK.
I’ve twice run my own meeja conference in the shape of #1000flowers and whilst it vaguely covered its costs, it was still a bit one man and his dog audience-wise. Particularly the second one in Newcastle.
And whilst we’re on the subject of Press Gazette, further kudos for actually having the nerve to step up to the plate and challenge Google and Facebook with a public campaign. That is worthy of supporting.
And here I beg to differ. And go my separate way from many that, I sensed, were sat in that room.
Because, societally, there is a change afoot. One of broader and deeper implications for us all – and not just those of us that are frantically trying to scrabble a living out of journalism.
It’s encapsulated in the picture above; it can be sensed in the grass roots ‘Momentum’ movement that powers Labour along; it can be seen in its clearest manifestation yet in beer – how the network of local craft brewers has come to overtake Budweiser in the US in terms of volume of beer served.
I wrote about it here.
I first started to talk about ‘bottom up’ ad models at NewsInnovation at the City University of New York in 2007.
Cindy Gallop delivered that glorious quote (above) to an audience at GMG’s own ‘Changing Advertising’ Summit five years later.
Five years on again and its a fundamental, societal perception that has still to truly catch on in our world of media – at least judging by the tone and tenor of Friday’s conversations.
In this ‘New World Order’, is salvation honestly going to come from the top of Mountain View and Menlo Park down?
For that matter is it going to come from the 17th floor of NewsUK down – or is it going to rise from the streets of SE1 down below? Where this resides.
I listened with obvious interest to the adtech debate – featuring Newsquest CEO Henry Faure Walker banging the drum for the regional newspaper inventory collective IXL, Daniel Spears, head of programmatic at GMG and representing Ad/Agency Land Alistair MacCallum, CEO of m/Six.
‘Local potency, nationally delivered,’ runs the line from 1XL, who turned to Wall Street for their delivery vehicle – to the same Rubicon Project that GMG are now suing for a lack of transparency in their fees.
Point being that Johnston, Newsquest, Archant, GMG et al… are seeking financial salvation from the wolves of Wall Street rather than the real and lasting advertising value that lies either side of Main Street, US, and High Street, UK.
And BrandLand of L’Oreal and Doritos are still being wheeled out as part of the solution; as opposed to recognizing that the blatant profiteering of the holding companies are central to the problem.
Which equally is why neither Google nor Facebook are about to come to the rescue any time soon. They have both long been lost to the mores of Wall Street.
Whatever their PR faces may claim to the contrary, the simple fact of the matter remains that if Google’s ad platforms actually delivered for anyone else bar Google and Wall Street, there would be no need for their Digital News Initiative.
So stop inviting them to spin their yarns on such stages.
And here’s the big rub; the elephant in the room for publishers, media agencies and ad tech behemoths alike to ponder.
On whose side of this great divide is the European Union now falling via its forthcoming legislative pushes in the fields of ePrivacy and GDPR?
Is it designed to shore up the surveillance models pedalled by the 1% – or are they weighing in on behalf of the 99% whose online habits are being ruthlessly farmed by the algorithmic creatures of Wall Street?
To my mind, they have picked a side.
It’s high time UK publishers did the same.
Otherwise, they are fucked.
No-one is going to explicit consent for my browsing data to be shared with 32 separate vendors as plugged in to the back of WalesOnline.
Finally a mention in despatches for Alison Gow of TrinityMirror who proved their is a little right thinking left in the UK provincial news industry.
A, for seeking partnership with the Weather Channel that delivers hyperlocal alerts right to the gates of the nearest primary school and B, for recognising the global ‘brand’ value individual local sports writers enjoy “…from Beijing to Anfield.”
Don’t they just? Welcome to MyFootballWriter…