There is nothing so practical as a good theory.
I’ve long found the above statement pretty dubious. Yes, I’ve spent years, upon years, upon years, in school, prostrate to the higher mind, and all that, and now I depend on the Ivory Tower for a living. However, I can’t deny I’ve always had very little patience for the turgid prose that academics use in what amounts to a “I’m smarter than YOU are!” pissing contest that often either does not reflect the real world, or simply will never be translated in a way that real people actually could put to use. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m as fascinated as the next nerd by deep thoughts, but I’m more interested in using them to help people.
That said, in these turbulent times for journalism, I’ve finally realized that, indeed, there is nothing so powerful as a good theory to help us understand some of the fundamentals of human nature that don’t change as fast as technologies and organizations and business models do.
As thus, I think that the Media Choice Model is really useful way to evaluate the various ideas and proposals news organizations are coming up with as they attempt to carve out a viable presence on the Web. This model is based on the work of Acting Dean of the Missouri Journalism School, Esther Thorson, and acting associate dean Margaret Duffy.
Media Choice Model spells out the fundamental needs people are seeking to be met when they go online:
Uh, okay. Sounds pretty vague, right? But where the rubber meets the road comes in helping you to avoid doing something…Web video or audio, for example…just because you CAN, thereby wasting valuable resources. Save those tools for when you think they will meet people’s needs. Say you have an idea on how to pull together some evergreen content your organization already produces in one place on your site. How does this proposal meet the above needs? For example, have you provided opportunities for your audience to interact with that content in ways that meet connectivity needs? And so on and so forth.
Any other ideas on how to apply the media choice model? Please post them here. I will be posting some more on this subject, with the help of some of my friends who study this model in much more detail than I do.