The Mass Media Effect

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As advanced as we think the world is when it comes to new media – with RSS readers, Google News Alerts, Blogs and citizen journalism – it’s important to take a step back and recognize the sheer brunt force and power that Mass Media still has.

Just the other day, I announced that I have become a Contributor to the Montreal Gazette. Twice a month, I will be writing my column, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation, in the Business Section (you can view my Blog posting and my first contribution here: Seven Blogs You Must Read And Other Useful Know-How – Montreal Gazette Column). I still pay close attention to the feedback and comments I get when something "hits" in the Mass Media. I’m curious about how people find out about it, and I’m even more fascinated by the emails and Facebook messages I get from people I have not connected to in a while.

Mass media still has mass impact.

In this instance, the Montreal Gazette promoted the launch of the column by featuring a picture of me on the front page of the newspaper as well as a promotional call-to-action on the front page of the Business section. The more times I am featured – and the more prominent the piece is – the higher number of messages, phone calls and well wishes I get.

Make no mistake about it: Mass Media is a very effective tool in getting your message out to the world.

But, here’s the most interesting component: on multiple occasions, I received messages that read, "I look forward to reading you now much more frequently," or "it will be great to read your thoughts every couple of weeks."

Most people (the masses) really have no idea what a Blog is.

Anybody who wants can read me here, every single day. Plus, it’s one hundred percent free and they don’t even have to come here. If they read that first column, they know where to grab an online news reader and how to have this content delivered to them as it is produced. Heck, they can even listen to me blab every week on the Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast.

I’m thrilled and happy to see so many new faces excited about checking out what I have to say every couple of weeks in the Montreal Gazette, on the other hand, it’s sad to see how few of those people realized that I’m here, Blogging every single day.

My guess is that as cool as Blogging may seem, the masses are still most impressed when the content appears in a mass media outlet. So, the big question becomes: how do we turn something like a Blog into a Mass Media? That, in and of itself, is a strange question, because I would argue that a Blog has more distribution and access to readers than any single newspaper in the world.

A while back I Blogged about the difference between Mass Media and mass content (Mass Media Or Mass Content – What’s Worse?). There might be some kind of balance in leveraging the two channels as a "means to an end" so both succeed and prosper in the new economy.


  1. Mitch – here’s my take. First, just like your previous post says (digital is slow), this is all about relationships. And relationships don’t happen over night. If you think about it in terms of dating, our issue here is sort of like setting somebody up on a blind date while they are in a long term relationship with someone else (mass media).
    Our discussion might go something like this though – “I know you’re “satisfied” right now, but I think I’ve found someone that’s really going to knock your socks off. She’s smart, fun, she’s their when YOU need her to be there, and most importantly she will actually LISTEN to you. Just give me the benefit of the doubt and give it a shot…”
    And probably most importantly, make sure we are connecting them to something specific that we know will be meaningful to them. Like connecting a football pool buff to a blog that will give them the latest tips for this week’s games.
    If the people who are deeply connected in the blogosphere can connect their disconnected friends/family/colleagues to meaningful content on a regular basis, we’ll be well on our way. That’s what the blogosphere is all about, isn’t it?
    Would love to hear how YOU think we can do it…

  2. We need to step back and rethink the notion that mass and new media are separate realities – somehow at odds with one another. They only represent chronological stages of the same reality. Of course mass media is powerful, but look how long it took to get there. It will take years, but new media will become mass media (and yes, eventually we’ll call it “old media”).
    And that’s the almost-overwhelming truth that gets us up in the morning. Isn’t it? What we’re doing in the relatively underdeveloped frontier of new media will someday feel as natural as turning on the TV.
    Only us fishbowlers understand how you can even write “Mass media STILL has mass impact.” Still? Why, do you reckon there’s a somethin’ out there that’s a gonna replace it, Jed?
    Most people have never heard of Twitter, while “everyone I know” is actively predicting its demise.

  3. To me, blogging is kind of an escape route, and at the same time it is a way of giving back and solidifying one’s position, but I have always seen it as an activity oriented to a specific, non-massive, audience.
    That is why this phrase made the biggest impression on me: “I would argue that a Blog has more distribution and access to readers than any single newspaper in the world”.
    According that phrase, a person walking anywhere in a city (like a blog circulating anywhere on the Internet) will eventually cross paths with tons of people out there, thus potentially having “more distribution and access to readers than any single newspaper in the world”. But that is not true, as mass-media manage time better. Their power resides in being at many places at once, just as the most famous and powerful guy out there… the one we appropriately tend to call God.

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