Digital technology is drastically reshaping Thai media
“…journalism has never died despite the disruption. It’s just that media organisations and reporters are unable to survive because they cannot adjust to changes.”
The Thaiger is a news and information portal, just one of a growing number of ‘disruptive media’ replacing traditional media and news outlets. It would be a very brave businessperson (with deep pockets) in the 2019 media landscape to consider starting up a new newspaper, magazine or start a new terrestrial TV station. The Nation, now calling themselves Nation Thailand online, has spoken to some of Thailand’s leading media analysts to delve into what this disruption means to Thailand’s old media guard…
Technological disruption is having a major impact on many business sectors, including the mass-media industry, which is forcing most mass-media organisations to make adjustments to cope with the changing landscape and cater for paperless consumers.
Professor Surapongse Sothanasathien, chairman of the university council at Rajamangala University of Technology Phra Nakhon, says media organisations will only survive difficulty by adjusting their content so it is appropriate for new digital media. They also have to move the centre of content from “sender” to “receiver”.
“In my experience, I have learned that journalism has never died despite the disruption. It’s just that media organisations and reporters are unable to survive because they cannot adjust to changes.”
He added that mass-media organisations should stop relying on content raised in social media, but instead follow these stories, add value and create good related reports themselves, noting that social media is not the final answer.
“…digital media has rendered print media obsolete.”
He explained that with the fall of traditional media, mass-media organisations need to gradually move to new media formats. For instance, many European countries no longer have traditional television, but instead consumers rely on podcasts and video streaming to access preferred content when and where they want.
“At present, many mass-media organisations are owned or managed by people who lack the knowledge of journalism and mass communications. Senior journalists, who are also part of the management, do not have good knowledge about business communication and management. This is why, many media organisations are failing,”noting that despite the collapse of many media organisations, the government has not made the issue part of the national problem that requires urgent solution.
Larry Chao, managing director of Chao Group Limited – a consultancy on organisation change – said that last year, for the first time, the daily consumption of digital media accelerated past traditional media with more than 50% of overall time spent. Since then, digital media has supplanted traditional media and now defines the industry. Media agencies that have not come up with clear strategies to harness digital media risk being left behind, he warned.
Chao pointed out that digital media has created at least four major disruptions in the media landscape.
First, digital media is rapidly replacing print, as evidenced by the gradual disappearance of print media, including the print edition of this newspaper (The Nation) earlier this year. With the cost of digital media dropping and digital devices like mobile phones improving access to news and information, digital media has rendered print media obsolete. In fact, in order to compete successfully, media agencies will need to tailor their offerings according to each online distribution channel. For example, how they communicate with the mass market on Facebook is different to how they might engage executives on LinkedIn.
Second, digital technology has spawned the development of digital media entrepreneurs, who have created a proliferation of media content. With low barriers to entry and readily available conduits to distribute their material, it is only a matter of time before they start eating into the market share of traditional media players that have relied on in-house creativity and production. Existing media agencies will need to decide how to compete with this influx of agile competitors, or better yet, how to leverage their capabilities as outsourcing partners.
Third, the digital industry has been a boon for video content and technology. Consumers nowadays have an attention span that lasts a few seconds compared to a few minutes in the past, so media agencies should learn to capture their attention quickly, or they can lose them. This has forced many media agencies to re-think the way they share their clients’ products and services with consumers. Perhaps the answer is a combination of capturing the audience’s attention with snippets of enticing digital media, while continuing to search and innovate other non-media sources of communication.
Fourth, with so much digital media bombarding audiences it is not surprising that people have grown wary of what they see and believe. Clever artificial intelligence had created media content dubbed “deep fake”, which fooled people initially but has now started raising suspicion. To win over consumers, media businesses will need to convince them that what they are portraying is genuine and not just a lot of bells and whistles. The quality, creativity and relevance of media content and the products and services they represent will also be vital.
Punyapon Tepprasit, CEOr of MVP Consultants and post-graduate lecturer on industrial management at Ramkhamhaeng University, said the disruption of media organisations has been continuous, beginning from the advent of and rising access to the internet.
“Humans have always wanted to keep up-to-date, and now they want to do that quickly. Traditional media formats cannot satisfy this need like online media can, with the latest news just a click away. Also news can be accessed conveniently and at a lower cost than other platforms. This disruption caused by changing consumer behaviour and the advent of many new technologies has become a big problem for media organisations,” he said.