Lowered Expectations


The ability to create items of impressive quality has never been easier in our society, so why does our disposable generation accept and settle for less?

WE CAN DO BETTER

[twitter]We have the ability to create HDTV‘s dozens of feet across. The 4K digital video standard is on the horizon with a resolution so clear that it will appear as if the image is real and alive in the room with you. Where HDTV has 1 000 lines of resolution onscreen, 4K will have 4 000.

We can create these machines, yet people watch hours and hours of video taken on cell phones, compressed and uploaded to YouTube and then downloaded again to their smart phone.

When music was pressed into vinyl platters and played on stereos in the 80s, the quality was more pure and clear than the digitally compressed mp3s that are pushed through tiny white earbuds today.

It’s never been easier to exceed expectations, yet at the same time expectations continue to drop.

QUALITY OF MEDIA IS DROPPING

Lowered expectations have resulted in a precipitous drop in the level of quality we will accept. As we have raised our ability to produce, we have lowered the standards at which we consume. And it’s not just a metaphor for music and video, it applies just as evenly to news and information.

When expectations are lowered, companies no longer strive to be leaders. Instead of looking for ways to do MORE with the SAME, they instead choose avenues where they can do the SAME with LESS.

In an era where profit margins are shrinking, managers are taking the easy way of slashing payroll while trying to maintain revenues at the current level, instead of maintaining staff at a current level and trying to increase revenues.

So, ultimately, when the product quality decreases and revenue shrinks after a staff cut, more cuts are made to try and maintain the allure of positive revenue gains. In actuality, all it does is reduce the quality of the product. If staffing cuts aren’t made, then veterans with experience and skill are replaced by lower cost juniors who don’t have the same knowledge or ability.

With so many media outlets following the same path, the quality bar is constantly lowered and lowered and lowered.

SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY

And therein lies the irony, the lower the bar gets, the easier it becomes to rise above. However, the lower the bar becomes, the easier it is to maintain a lazy status quo and float along at the same low water mark as everyone else.

That’s why you see a newspaper like 24 cut all but a handful of staff. The free daily newspaper’s local team consists of less than half a dozen creating content while the majority of the paper is stuffed with wire services and stories from affiliated papers.

That’s why you see a television station like Global BC run a few minutes of local stories off the top of their newscast followed by a heavy diet of outside information produced by American networks available on sattelite feeds. Even the local stories are little more than anchor voice overs to video footage from police press conferences, fires and ambulance chases.

In a previous post I allude to the fact that Media Are the Real Terrorists, and it still rings true. Instead of offering insight and information and a factual layout of opposing sides to a story, the news is peppered with emotional, opinionated headlines with designs on drawing in viewers by fear.

GOING HIGHER

When the CBC relaunched CBC Newsworld as CBC News Network it represented a top to bottom mind shift in the organization. Exploiting their national network and branches in radio, television and online, the CBC brass combined their newsrooms, pooled their efforts and focused on the future. They were going to try and do MORE with the SAME.

“Despite the financial challenges we face as the result of a drastic decline in advertising revenue and the continuing erosion in real dollars of our public subsidy, we are proceeding with plans to re-engineer our operations,” Jennifer McGuire, interim head of news at the CBC said.

To better deliver news with less money, the CBC proposes to introduce a central news assignment desk for its radio, television and online news operations.

Recent internal market research at the CBC revealed that Canadians value the public broadcaster for in-depth news coverage, but consider rival private broadcasters faster and more consumer-friendly in delivering the news.
[Friends.ca]

By combining the newsrooms and putting having the focus “online first,” the CBC has positioned itself when the world will not wait for “Traffic on the ones” or “Film at 11.”

To be honest, we’re already in that world.

WHO WILL RISE ABOVE?

So while private outlets continue to shrink their staff, instead of looking for ways to exploit and combine their efforts into a forward thinking regime, the bar gets lowered.

It’s true that we have entered a world of citizen journalism where anyone with a mouse and modem can be a publisher. But when we place more value in the unresearched and biased opinions of the amateur blogosphere, the bar gets lowered.

When we watch cell phone quality video online and listen to compressed music, the bar gets lowered.

The barrier to entry in the world of media is low. It’s true and, in some cases, it’s a good thing.

What we really need are more people willing to rise above it, instead of crawling under it.

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3 Comments

  1. […] than 2 years after the CBC declared an ‘online first’ mandate for their newsroom and after many other are flocking to the social networks to promote their […]

  2. […] a culture where everything is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, news stories are distilled to those which strike an emotion – and fear is the easiest to […]

  3. […] kid? Really? This is NEWS? The machine continued to crank and churn out the content that was easy for people to emotionally […]

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