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Beyond Broadcast Conference: Beta Business Models in the New World

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Date and time
Friday, May 12, 2006

Mark Cooper and other panelists discuss how public media should embrace changes in their operational and financial models in terms of using various levels public participation. They also discuss investor and citizen decision-making methods to fund new public participatory media sites. The following are key points from the speakers. The challenges public media face are not different than those of commercial media. They are both asking the same questions: Should they change their orientation and embrace interactivity? Do they understand understand how technology empowers the consumer? Can they redefine the concept of content? Do they deepen advertising and commerce, reinvent business models, or view the process with an entrepreneurial spirit? Media can no longer be a one-way industry in a two-way world. The old media presented a push approach and treated the audience as mute. The old media will try to make the public "feel" as though we are interactive, which may not be the case. A new way to assess media delivery is that old models are broadcast, cable TV, public TV and the new is "Independent Noncommercial TV" and the "networked individual." At the same time, the Internet, while useful, timely and convenient, lacks public trust. Local television ranks higher. One out of every two Americans is a member of a cooperative, namely credit unions, which are trust institutions. Information could be managed along the same lines in a membership-based, participatory organization to creating and moderating their own credible content. The public could form and pay dues to media membership organizations to create their own local news so that they can decide what is newsworthy. Overall, the old media format is to report, edit, and control responses and have such mottos as "All the news that is fit to print." The media presented at this conference seek to break this top-down approach - from Google to Wikipedia. All of these models have different functions and are open and closed to varying degrees. If you give participants the chance to be a member and use more functions, they will be willing pay dues to have an impact and influence in and beyond their communities.

Patricia Aufderheide is a professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., and the director of the Center for Social Media there. She is the author of, among others, Documentary: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2007), The Daily Planet (University of Minnesota Press, 2000), and Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press, 1999). She has been a Fulbright and John Simon Guggenheim fellow and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival among others.