Media Management in the Age of Tech Giants: Collaboration or Co-opetition?
History has shown that the advent of advertising in the media landscape had a significant impact on content, audiences, management, revenue streams, culture and consumption. The advertising boom saw the emergence of media monopolies and super capitalization of the media industry. Media firms made super-profits, with the average newspapers’ return on investment of between 15 and 20 percent in the last 50 years. Along with these profits, one saw an un-responsiveness by the media to their audience and advertiser demands, needs and wants. The maxim was that freedom of the press was guaranteed only to those who owned a press. The prevalent business model was based on selling eyeballs/audience ratings (ARs) to advertisers, along with frequent rises in ad rates of media firms.
The internet changed all of this. The rise of digital media, the emergence of online publishing and the advent of Web 2.0 brought in a whole new world, and the mainstream media has been in financial crisis since then, struggling to find appropriate business and management responses to the rapidly changing media ecosystem. Most media industry leaders watched in amazement as these changes took hold but did very little to harness the power of the new media landscape because newspapers, in particular, had successfully weathered the emergence of both radio and television in the past. The media industry thus largely dismissed the internet and digital and social media as passing fads. They were not. Soon the mainstream media were struggling financially, cutting back on editorial staffs, attempting different business models, and watching the rise of citizen journalism.
The intervention in the media market by global technological giants such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, among others, has deepened and accelerated an existential financial and economic crisis that had already gripped ‘old’ media since the worldwide economic crisis of 2007-2009. In recent years, several leading media firms around the world have wilfully handed over their content to Facebook’s ‘Instant Articles’, Apple’s News, and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages to seek what has been promised as greater and faster distribution of their content to audiences and increased revenue.
The facts on the ground so far suggest that it is the tech giants which are reaping huge profits from this uneven, dyadic ‘collaboration’ with media firms, whose own financial bottom lines have shown little, if any, improvement.
The conference’s submission themes include:
- Emerging challenges and opportunities in the strategic management of media firms: As the media industry adapts to changes resulting from digital and social media platforms, what are some of the challenges and opportunities offered by strategic management?
- How can strategic management ensure the sustainability of digital media start-ups, and how can small digital start-ups survive in the era of the Tech Giants?
- How to lead and manage media talent and knowledge workers in the technological age.
- In an era where anyone can publish and be published online and through a variety of digital platforms, how does the media industry retain and motivate skilled, creative professionals?
- What is the impact of technology and digital platforms on the relationship between media management and media workers?
- The leadership and management of media firms in the age of algorithms.
A Globalized World:
- The impact of globalization on journalism and media.
- Who is defining the news agenda in a globalized world? What impact are the Tech Giants having on news generation, the type of news that is prioritized or not prioritized and why, and agenda-setting?
- The role of media and journalism in the transformation of a ‘new’ Africa: Africa is one of the emerging continents which has promising, positive economic growth and rising populations, which are important for creating scale in business. How do local and global media companies harness the power of this emerging continent in light of a lack of infrastructure and technology, corruption, and political disruptions?
- Examining the challenges of media development and growth in Africa: How do local and global media companies ensure the sustainability of the African media market in uncertain and changing technological, political and economic circumstances?
- The role of media ethics in the sustainability of African media companies: How can digital media provide a space for alternative voices in a landscape filled with repression and ‘envelope journalism’?
- Financing of public, private and community media in the twenty-first century.
Education, Teaching and Learning:
- Challenges and opportunities in educating and training competent media managers and leaders in an age of shifts and volatile changes in the media landscape.
- How can educators adapt their teaching and curricula to ensure they educate leaders who understand the media landscape holistically and can make their companies relevant and sustainable through strategic thinking?
- The relevance of the current curricula of media management and media business in an ever changing media landscape?
- Trends in media consumption, measurement and forecasting: what is the future in a digital and social media-dominated world?
- How should we measure more accurately media consumption in the digital and social media landscape?
- Moving beyond the numbers: What are the emerging trends in measuring audience behavior in the multi-platform media environment?
- The role of Big Data in media consumption and audience measurement.
Media and Journalism Ethics:
- The role of media and journalistic ethics in the sustainability of media: how can digital and social media provide a space for alternative voices while shaping credible and quality content which has been the key driver of the financial survival of media firms for years?
- In an age of increasing ‘fake news’ and, in parts of the world of ‘envelope journalism’, who is setting the agenda, and how do media companies ensure they remain ethical in an age of heightened competition?
- The ethics of truth in an age of ‘post-truth’: what implications do the trends of minimizing the facts and of ‘creating’ the facts and the truth have on media content and media’s future viability?
- How can media managers observe and enforce media ethics when faced with demands from audiences, social media and technology companies for fast ‘facts’ and instant news content?
IMPORTANT NOTE: Papers on other topics directly relevant to media economics and media management will also be considered.