By Mike Green, freelance journalist and former Web Editor for the Dow Jones Local Media Group
What is the future of media? It’s an important question to answer if the National Association of Black Journalists plans to establish a firm foothold that continues to help Black media professionals develop and thrive in an uncertain media industry that struggles to see where its going.
There are entrepreneurs currently building the roads upon which media will likely travel. And they are getting the funding that isn’t coming our way. These are folks building the next platforms upon which communities, small and large, will communicate and interact daily. Media will use these platforms to reach communities of subscribers. Here’s a link to a variety of brand new platforms currently generating a feeding frenzy of millions in investment capital.
These platforms will dictate how media will reach consumers in the near future. Think of AOL, MySpace and Facebook as platforms upon which numerous opportunities can be built to connect with the base subscribers. The iPhone is a piece of hardware, yet still another platform that spawned an industry of applications designed specifically to reach the customer base of the iPhone. The resulting deluge made the iPhone a more valued commodity.
Kindle is a platform as well. And it also has future rivals already. The New York Times is a media organization, yet recognized the need to establish itself in the platform industry. So it built a platform upon which its readers could receive the Times according to the trends in consumer behavior. See this video for a mind-blowing demonstration of what’s coming:
Future platforms are certainly going to dictate how consumers communicate with one another. And when media seek to reach those consumers, consideration to the platform will be high on the list of priorities. Content is king among media. But the most valued commodity online is COMMUNITY. And communities value connections to friends, families and co-workers. In other words, the current trend today is building communities via platforms that establish easy connections.
NABJ is a community. So is the Black Press. HBCUs are as well. Sororities and fraternities also have communities. Yet, who is developing the platforms by which these communities can all come together?
BET established a community. Then it was bought out by White investors. AOL Black Voices did it. It, too, was bought out. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m saying it’s an indicator that the most valuable commodity is the platform upon which communities are built. And while we’re creating cool content, the road to power, influence and control runs through community platforms.
When we speak of expanding our scope to include ownership of media that carries the content we produce, it seems prudent that we recognize and take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the trends. And right now, angels and venture capital firms (some of the most well established and well-known) are investing buckets of cash into new media platforms that establish targeted communities.
Are there any entrepreneurs in Black America building such platforms? If there were, would they have access to capital? Would we assist them? Could we assist them? Are there Black investor networks? If so, can they be shared in this forum, or are they secret societies? Or perhaps we’ve identified a missing rung in the ladder to success?
Can NABJ play any role at all in developing an in-house resource of knowledge and networks that can help Black entrepreneurs whose ideas may impact the media industry? Some nonprofits do play such roles. Here’s one in Canada: http://naoangelinve stor.wordpress. com/ Angelsoft.net is the most prominent U.S. investor network for entrepreneurs that I’ve heard of.