Absolutely essential reading from Les Hinton, CEO of Dow Jones. It’s an fascinating speech. Mr Hinton seems to lay a significant portion of the blame for media’s current travails at the social media ‘industry’. Wrong argument, I think. The world is what it is, technology has changed things (as it always has – it’s just this time its changing information).

On brief reflection, I think it’s the advertising industry that is failing. As soon as it works out how to (cost-)effectively add value to the people its trying to influence without interrupting them, the sooner big-brand money will flow back into information sources (the media) and the sooner this type of conversation will move on. No small challenge though.

Our recent INLINE research proved the huge relevance of the traditional media to today’s consumers. The media industry needs to sort its economics out, which I believe will be best done by working with advertisers to redefine how they help people find and consume useful/educational/entertaining information, rather than building a wall around their journalism and charging for access.

In the future good journalism will depend on the ability of a news organization to attract customers by providing news and information they are willing to pay for. Free costs too much. Good content is valuable. That hasn’t changed. It never will. The question is who will provide the content and who will be compensated fairly for the value delivered.

Wrong question. He should be asking ‘how will we (the media) be fairly compensated for the value we deliver?’ And the answer might be found were the advertising industry to ask itself ‘how can we innovate to help maintain these valuable channels to our audience?’ rather than stumbling aimlessly around throwing money at infinite digital billboards. Because the eyeballs will follow good content.

As I read this back, I realise I have made one massive assumption (never a good move): that all media will become exclusively digital. That’s inevitable though, right? I showed my eight year old daughter some photo negatives at the weekend. The look of puzzlement on her face was hilarious. She genuinely thought the concept of having to process pictures was absurd. Buying information printed onto paper last night (or weeks ago in the case of magazines) will be similarly regarded as being daft, I’m certain of it. No?