One of the biggest distinctions between the future of what users will want to do on the internet from what they did or in fact are doing now, is the difference between being passive viewers and active participants. Old Media doesn't get this important orientation on how it needs to treat its audience. Imagine a bar where you could only talk to the bartender? It is like the mentality of the Economist to set a paywall for their content and beg for their "loyal" customers to pay. The "make-->push" content model is not going to thrive in the Time of Convergence (which is almost really here this now btw).
I am trying to tease out some of the key issues facing online media organizations. Our approach of course, as you can see in Heritage Key ( I hope), is from the almost-off-the-chart right position of newest media. We are trying to figure out how to mix the content-focus with social tools with the interactive tools in the most unique way. I can break-down some of our ideas as follows in terms of the content that we make and people consume:
These are the components, the challenge is to get the mix right and scale the production costs against the overall revenue potential of the site/brand.
As we continue to rollout our vision on this in Heritage Key, it is clear why Old Media doesn't get Convergence and why even New Media players will have challenges making the next transition. Organizations work better on push. You can plan, manage push in a much more predictable manner. Where the site needs to marshall the community, well, it is a lot more difficult and outcomes less certain. Video killed the radio star. The requirements for success in the future will be no less dramatic. The "push" stars won't "pull" communities.
One way to mitigate some of the risk is to get the hardcore users into the alpha/beta testing areas. It is important to engage people that will be the evangelists or even find solutions with you. But you will need to expose the ongoing work--which is a minimum is uncomfortable. With large deployed online brands it may require new branding and even new sites as testbeds/community crucibles.
Another point in comparing the players that is worth making is about the cost of content creation. The Old Media players have very high costs, often with long cycle times from idea to publish. Production costs must go down. Newest media content production is low and will get lower. The quality is perhaps not the same, but as we already see with blogs and tweets the immediacy is must greater.