FML Blog

Michiel Buitelaar’s vision of the future media landscape

 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013      Marjolaine Detry      0

 

One of the recurring series of the Future Media Lab. blog are posts that include short interviews with representatives of different media or related sectors to gain a glimpse of the future of media through their eyes. Our first interview was with Kerstin Jorna, Director, DG MARKT at the European Commission. We continue this series with an interview with Michiel Buitelaar, the COO of Digital Media at Sanoma Media NL. Mr. Buitelaar also gave a keynote address at the “Understanding Disruption” conference in April 2013.

 

FML: Representative of the Future Media Lab.
MB: Michiel Buitelaar

 

FML: Picture the media landscape in 2050.

 

    MB: What our world will look like in thirty years is an interesting and partly scary thought. We had an exercise recently in our company to visualise ourselves in 2020. We found that difficult, so looking at 2050 will be extremely hard. That said, I referred in my speech to things like abundance and transparency – these are the key things driving our industry forward. I think by 2050 the abundance of content and advertising will be unimaginably massive – but it will also be transparent, and brought to us by very sophisticated means – all those ways to look, to search, to bundle, to profile, and bring the stuff to you and me. International boundaries will hardly play a role. Access to stuff will be very easy, because it will all be digitalised. Last week I read that a mobile phone is being sold for $12. And it is clear that digital stuff tends to double in functionality every 18 months.

 

FML: Who’s going to pay for content in the future? Will journalists still be around?

 

MB: To some extent. But things will be organised in a different manner. Some journalists will be paid for stuff themselves and they may offer us subscriptions for a year or for an article, or whatever. I also think that asking for a business model is not always the best approach. There are things that do not work according to a business model. Take The Guardian, arguably one of the best newspapers in the world, and it doesn’t have a business model, it’s run by a foundation. The New York Times doesn’t have a proper business model. Or, they have not yet found a business model as we know it, until now.

 

Many bloggers don’t have a business model. They may get a dime here or there, but they don’t have a proper working commercial operation in terms of practices that we see in our rearview mirror. You have to recognise the fact that many people just have the desire to express themselves. It’s the same with journalists. Nobody becomes a journalist because it provides economic protection. They do it because of the desire to explain the world, to give opinions, to give context and expression. I’m not saying journalists should work for free – but it should be taken into account that some people are willing to undertake certain activities without having a full economic rationale.

 

FML: Will the traditional media survive?

 

MB: It will be very difficult for the media in general to keep running on the current models. As far as the traditional press is concerned, I think most newspapers will evolve into something that looks like a magazine. For a newspaper to produce content on a 12 hour revolve is a rather silly model. Those that don’t evolve, probably won’t survive.

Image: Michiel Buitelaar giving his keynote address at the Future Media Lab. April 2013 conference, Understanding Disruption. Photo ©Thomas Geuens.


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