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The Rise Of The Shadow Media

Several weeks ago, BusinessWeek columnist Jon Fine shared a term in one of his predictions for 2009 that was intriguing because of how it describes a growing phenomenon in media today … the rise of the shadow media. The shadow media are the professional journalists, writers, editors and thought leaders who have been displaced either by choice or necessity as part of the upheaval that traditional media has been going through over the past few years. While before, these content creators may have just moved to a new role within traditional media (as Josh Quittner did when Business2.0 magazine folded) – but today more and more they are branching out on their own.

The result is a big trend that may start to redefine social media as we currently see it: namely that blogs, social networks and other forms of “new media” aren’t just for amateurs anymore. For some time now, respected journalists like Om Malik, Kara Swisher, Erick Schonfeld and dozens of others have been actively blogging. Engadget is the official media source for the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, and arguably will be the defacto media source of coverage for the event though there are many traditional publications attending as well.

It may seem like a stretch to refer to all of this as “shadow media” – and indeed some of these classifications are artificial to start with. But regardless of what you call these new sources of news and information, the indisputable fact is that in 2009 there will be many social media examples to point to where the quality is as good if not better than traditional media sources. So if you’re working in a communications role and you’re not yet focusing on social media … consider the shadow media phenomenon your wake up call to start in 2009.

NOTE: This blog post is reposted from the original on Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence blog.

4 thoughts on “The Rise Of The Shadow Media”

  1. As someone recently (and unwillingly) ousted from industrial media, it pains me to admit it, but shadow media is indeed becoming bigger then we ever thought, and it’s forcing us to change the way we deliver our information to the public (goodbye, magazine column, hello blog).

    Still, in my opinion, nothing beats Sundays with a cup of tea and the paper (as in, the thing that is printed and delivered to my door in the morning). Sitting at my computer and reading RSS news feeds with a cup of tea doesn’t quite do it for me.

  2. Hi Rohit
    Yes, strange that we had all those endless predictions for 2009 by bloggers but none of them seemed to point out that the biggest change will be the arrival of latecomers to social media. They aren’t interested in the kit, I can guarantee you, only how they can use it to do what they already do. Are the earlier adopters READY for it!

  3. Well, with the media being controlled by only a few sources and content being blocked…The Internet is the new TV and Radio. It can give you what you want to find out immediately and without bias. Hmmm…maybe I should become a shadow writer…


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Rohit is the author of 10 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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