by Douglas E. Welch
It is too easy these days to focus on the big entertainment news coming out of New Media and ignore all the things that New Media can do for everyone else from individuals to freelancers to small companies and beyond. Sure, it’s great to see new shows with big name starts being picked up by Netflix and exciting to hear about one company buying another, but for me, this isn’t the heart of what New Media is about.
Eleven years ago, when I started podcasting, I saw it is an opportunity for letting the world hear the underheard and see the underseen. It was about giving distribution and exposure to millions of people who never would have made it through the gatekeepers of mainstream media. Mainstream media, by the very nature of its technology had extremely limited time available for shows, so the competition was fierce. This often drove content to the lowest common denominator, designed to please the widest range of viewers possible — and deliver the largest number of eyes and ears to advertisers — rather than produce great content.
New Media had no such constraints. You could do a show about woodworking, or knitting, or gaming, or butterflies and easily make it available to those who wanted to see or hear it. You didn’t have to garner 3 million viewers to stay on the air. You only had to create a show that served an interested and devote niche base of fans. We have lost of a bit of this idealism, though, as money and the influence it buys started to make its way into New Media. It took a long time — and much outright denial — for mainstream media folks — actors, directors, producers — to understand New Media, but now they are taking over.