Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 11, 2009 9:20 PM

Media Purgatory

Media Purgatory. Maybe that's exactly where we are at this specific moment in time.

According to Wikipedia, "Purgatory is the condition or process of purification in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven... John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment and in the possibility of 'continuing to grow in holiness there', but Methodism does not officially affirm his belief and denies the possibility of helping by prayer any who may be in that state." Jay Rosen says newspapers and the modern media will look more like a hybrid between professional journalism and citizen journalism (more on that here: How Mass Media Learns About New Media) while Jeff Jarvis (and others) have really been trying to figure out what the new business models of journalism will look like (more on that here: How Journalism Survives New Media (By Saving Itself)).

So, where does that leave consumers and marketers?

While the old business model of mass media still maintains (it hasn't totally collapsed) and the newer business models and platforms haven't really evolved to the point where they are experiencing the same kinds of level of engagement and advertising dollars, it's clear that we are in some form of media purgatory. We're stuck. We're in the middle of this. We're not going back to a world where we get our news every morning at 6:00 am on our doorstep, or at 6:00 pm on the television. We're also not in a world driven by RSS subscriptions and Digg-like choices mixed in with infinite editorialization that anyone can comment on and link to. We're not exactly experiencing the real-time Web with reporting on events coming from video-enabled iPhones or Twitter feeds. We're also not seeing that many new advertising models that have the bigger brands shifting media platforms in a dramatic fashion (in fact, it just looks like they're cutting back on advertising budgets versus shifting them from one media platform to another).

We're all just waiting. Enjoying moments of traditional mass media coupled with moments of highly innovative digital platforms.

For the old guard, this is hell. For the new guard, this is heaven. The consumers and marketers are simply caught in the middle of it all.

Sounds like purgatory to me.

By Mitch Joel