We're working hard across McClatchy to discover and embrace new relationships with our audiences, moving from the old gatekeeper paradigm to a new model of conversation, sharing and co-creation. It's a huge shift for us, coming right in the midst of wrenching economic dislocation, but so what? The payoffs are enormous: survival, and, more importantly, better tools for democracy.
These relationships are shifting everywhere. One of the most analogous for us, in some important ways, is the music industry. In the midst of a wrenching economic dislocation ("They're not buying CDs! They're stealing songs on p2p networks!") traditional record companies are hurting. Many artists are likewise dislocated (remember Metallica's stance?) while others proved impressively prescient (believe it or not, see Courtney Love's analysis).
Long before the age of Napster or Limewire – back when music piracy meant bad bootleg concert tapes and stolen studio recordings – the Grateful Dead had already explored the new frontier. Their business model, now a commonplace amongst many progressive bands: "Give away the music and sell the experience." (John Parry Barlow (among his many other accomplishments, he was a Dead lyricist) has written presciently on such matters; start your exploration with The Economy of Ideas.)
This is all a rather longwinded way of introducing you to this website devoted to R.E.M.'s world tour 2008. It's an "official" band website, but it's entirely fan driven – a tour de force of tagging and the integration of social media tools.
Isn't there a community of people who care about, oh the Iraq war, for instance, who might come together in such a shared environment if we made that possible? Could you discover geographically bounded communities (our real venue as a business) that would love their leading local media company to empower this for them? What other, better ideas can you think of?
Yeah, it's the end of the world as we know it (sorry). But there's another world awaiting.