Time: it may no longer be on your side

Joe Mandese

Pay careful attention to this opening sentence because by the time you finish reading it, a new media outlet will have been created. That's right, a new media platform is now created every few seconds. Most people may not think of it that way, but every time someone creates a new blog, or signs up for a personal page on Facebook or MySpace, they are effectively creating a new media distribution channel that has as much potential reach and frequency as those of the biggest and most professional media owners. A blog published on the World Wide Web, or a page on Facebook, theoretically can reach virtually anyone in the world with online access. And the only thing that separates citizen media from the pros is content and promotion. And as the top-viewed video on YouTube proved last year, that may not be much.

When a tourist vacationing in Kruger National Park in South Africa inadvertently caught an epic wildlife struggle between a herd of wildebeeste, a pride of lions and a float of crocodiles, the amateur video became the most virally-distributed piece of content in 2007, and generated the kind of audience exposure that would make the biggest professional media organisations green with envy. In fact one, National Geographic, figured out a way to turn the user-generated video into a successful piece of professionally-produced content, creating a one-hour TV special that expertly narrated the 'Battle at Kruger' YouTube video. It was the perfect blending of the amateur and professional media sectors, and is the type of thing that is giving rise to a new term in the media industry: 'prosumer media'.