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Panpa Bulletin : April 2006
12 | PaNPa bUlletiN april 2006 NeWS continue its rapid development as the prime media channel for information, entertainment, business and social contact. One of the reasons I say that is the success of a company we bought last year called MySpace. com. This is a networking site in which millions of people, aged mainly between 16 and 34, talk online to each other about mu- sic, film, dating, travel, whatever interests them. They share pic- tures, videos and blogs, forming virtual communities. Since launch just two years ago, the site has acquired 60 million registered users, 35 mil- lion of whom are regular users. This is a generation, now popu- larly referred to as the "MySpace generation", talking to itself in a world without frontiers. It is just one example of how the media, with its ability to reach millions with informa- tion, entertainment and educa- tion can use the achievements of technology to create better and more interesting lives for a great many people. And it is one reason why I believe we are at the dawn of a golden age of information - an empire of new knowledge. Today one of our great chal- lenges is to understand and seize the opportunities present- ed by the web. It is a creative, destructive, technology that is still in its infancy, yet breaking and remaking everything in its path. The web is changing the way we do business, the way we talk to each other and the way we enjoy ourselves. As old and new technologies merge, the questions multiply: Will the internet kill fixed-line telephony? It is already hap- pening via VoIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol. When high-speed broad- band pipes TV and film onto enhanced computer screens at home, what happens to the tel- evision companies, the film stu- dios and indeed newspapers? I pose these questions - and there are many more thrown up by the web - in this context. There are about 1 billion people in the world who have access to computers, although only about ten per cent to broadband. In 20 or 30 years there will be 6 billion such people, or two- thirds of the human race. We know the $100 laptop is on the way. In a few years, there could be a $50 laptop. What happens to print jour- nalism in an age where con- sumers are increasingly being offered on-demand, interac- tive, news, entertainment, sport and classifieds via broadband on their computer screens, TV screens, mobile phones and handsets? The answer is that great jour- nalism will always attract read- ers. The words, pictures and graphics that are the stuff of journalism have to be brilliantly packaged; they must feed the mind and move the heart. And, crucially, newspapers must give readers a choice of ac- cessing their journalism in the pages of the paper or on web- sites such as Times Online or - and this is important - on any platform that appeals to them, mobile phones, hand-held de- vices, ipods, whatever. As I have said newspapers may become news-sites. As long as news organisations create must-read, must-have content, and deliver it in the medium that suits the reader, they will endure. Great content always has been, and I think always will be, king of the media castle. Caxton's printing press marked a revolution that is with us 500 years later. But the his- tory of that revolution is not one in which the new wipes out the old. Radio did not destroy newspapers, television did not destroy radio and neither elimi- nated the printing of books. That is where we are today. We are immeasurably better equipped than our ancestors to face the challenges posed by some of the issues I have raised. But we must not lose our nerve. We must be prepared to take risks and accept that we will make mistakes, sometimes very large ones. Above all we must have the courage to use Michael Kelly 7 years poses with his i-Kids mobile phone handset with GPS monitoring at a valon beach on thursday 9 february 2006. Photo by andrew Meares fairfaxphotos