Friday, August 14, 2009

Is digital media a Woodstock-esque movement?

I just watched a story about Woodstock (part of their publicity blitz for its 40th anniversary), noting the way the iconic event forced mainstream news organizations to pay attention to the messages of the younger generation.  T.J. Winick (of ABC News) interviewed Dan Garson, a photojournalist who actually began his career at Woodstock...and not in the traditional way. Merely a high school 17-year-old, he bought a camera, applied for a media pass, got it, and from the 3rd row shot some of the most memorable Woodstock photos taken--like the treasure to the left. Keep that concept of citizen journalism in mind. 

Last night I attended Zehnder Communications’ seminar “The 411 on Social Media” in New Orleans, and Tom Martin (check him out here and here) noted the newfound ease of live streaming broadcast. With a wireless 3G card and a laptop, I can stream live from anywhere, most likely beating national news networks to the punch. What does this mean for the future of the “breaking story?” And how often will those who just happen to be at the right place at the right time bring a story to millions the fastest? 

That's the direction in which we're moving, folks, and those of us proficient in digital media will be able to move it forward, helping our clients shape the conversations around their brands in the same manner. Why can't a spokesperson for a company live stream exactly what a corporation is doing to manage a crisis in real time, from the scene even? To me, it's going to be great way for us to have our clients' issues addressed first and, most importantly, transparently, by those on the front lines. 

With the popularity of social media to break and relay news, this movement really could be compared to the attention demanded by the Woodstock generation. Look at the respect attention networks give to information taken from the Drudge Report, formerly a weekly e-mail. Twitter entered the national dialogue when the first image of "The Miracle on the Hudson" broke via TwitPic from a rescue worker's iPhone. The media is changing and mainstream channels are being forced to participate. 

It's going to be especially interesting, though, to watch the way live video streaming affects broadcast news. How do you think it's going to affect reporters? Will the citizen journalist become a part of the story? 

Photo credit: Jimi Hendrix performs at Woodstock. From the collection of Dan Garson (Dan Garson/Genesis Publications / April29, 2009)

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