TEDx Toronto: New Media vs. Old Media

I was honoured recently by being asked to be one of the featured presenters at the first TEDx Toronto, a kind of mini-version of the famous TED conference that took place in at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto on September 10th (which also happened to be my birthday). The title of my presentation was “Five Ways New Media Can Save Old Media,” and it was quite well received as far as I could tell. So I thought I would post the slides here – they are embedded if you are reading this via RSS – and the transcript. The TEDx organizers said that there would be video of all the talks available, so I will post that as well when it arrives.

Good afternoon, and thanks for joining me for this part of TEDx Toronto. I’m honoured to be included in this event with so many great speakers and thinkers. The title of this presentation is Five Ways New Media Will Save Old Media. If we look at that title, we can see there are three implicit assumptions: 1) old media needs to be saved; 2) old media can be saved; and 3) old media should be saved.

Let’s take those one at a time: does old media need to be saved? Revenues are dropping at many media entities, not just newspapers; circulation is stagnant at best, and some media outlets have already gone bankrupt or closed for good, or gone online-only. Let’s call that assumption “proven,” just for the sake of argument.

Can old media be saved? I believe that it can — although I have no proof of that. If I had proof that old media could be saved, I would be sitting on a beach somewhere. I think it’s also important to think about what we mean by using the word “saved.” Do we mean restoring traditional media to the good old days of 25-per-cent returns and rising readership? I don’t think that’s likely to happen.

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