Digital technology has not killed the media but has given

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image: Professor Amanda Lotz. Photo: Dr TJ Thomson
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Credit: Dr TJ Thomson

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA: Over the past 20 years, some global media companies have sunk in the face of digital disruption, but many have survived and thrived, says QUT media research expert who opposes common misconceptions about impact from the Internet.

“Piracy hasn’t destroyed the record industry, Netflix isn’t killing Hollywood movies, and information doesn’t want to be free,” said Professor Amanda Lotz, media specialist at the Digital Media Research Center by QUT and author of Media Disrupted: Surviving Hackers, Cannibals, and Streaming Wars (MIT Press, October 2021).

“The four major media industries – newspapers, recorded music, films and television – are the zero point of digital disruption, but new technologies have not introduced ‘new media’. Instead, they gave existing media new tools to reach people, ”Professor Lotz said.

“The Internet has introduced paradigmatic shifts in so many facets of life that it ranks among the engines that brought us the mechanization of the Industrial Revolution.

“The advent of the Internet as a technology capable of delivering words, music and video files to people’s homes and mobile devices has been a much bigger development than the emergence of a new competitor,” broader regulation or economic change that would simply require trade change. .

“Yes, we’ve seen the phenomenal rise of global companies like Netflix and Spotify, as well as the death of a famous label like EMI and countless newspapers and magazines, but these are the extremes.

“Hundreds more have seen their competitive playgrounds drastically altered, but have responded by reorganizing themselves to stay alive.

“For example, what we used to call ‘cable companies’ in the United States, who were seen as pre-digital dinosaurs, have moved on to controlling Internet access.

“Other industrial sectors found their companies cut off at the knees, because the Internet communication tools made them inferior and useless. It was the fate of video rentals and much of music retailing.

Professor Lotz’s book uses a blend of business history and analysis to explore how the four media industries have responded to what she calls the “seismic disruption” of the Internet and associated technologies, and what lessons can be learned. learned from their experiences.

“Their stories of corporate transformation are vital to the thousands of people who work there around the world, but they are also important to the much wider scope of humanity that engages in music, journalism and video on a daily basis. “she said.

“The Internet has made it possible for people to discover and pay for music, so the main source of revenue for the recorded music industry has shifted from selling music to licensing.

“News organizations have struggled to get back to business amid the sharp decline in advertiser spending, while the film industry divided its business between films that forced people to go to the movies and others better suited to the cinema. streaming.

“The four industries each have a different story to tell, but they all have in common that many of the initial answers were wrong about the nature of the challenge posed by the Internet and digital technologies.

“For much of the first decade of disruption, so-called ‘digital’ media was seen as a separate industry that would conquer those before the Internet. Even now, misunderstanding the nature of the problem continues to lead industry leaders to seek irrelevant solutions, regulators to set bad policies, and consumers to misunderstand how and why the companies behind the core technologies. of everyday life have become so powerful.

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To request a review copy of Media Disrupted: Surviving Hackers, Cannibals, and Streaming Wars, email [email protected]

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, [email protected]

Outside opening hours: Rod Chester, 0407 585 901, [email protected]


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