Robert Freeman's whole Media, Business and Technology thing. Sorted.

Do you remember why we need the media?

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In writing this I am satisfying a deep-rooted need within you

In the last few months I’ve been remembering what it’s like to be back at University.

I’ve recently written a digital journalism training syllabus for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and I’m currently helping  seasoned reporters extend their skills in social media at the BBC Academy’s College of Journalism, under the diligent eye of Claire Wardle, PhD (no less!)

Selfishly (because I’m being paid to help other people learn) I’m finding it tremendously enriching. I’m able to read and think much more deeply about where we’re all headed in this fact-rich, analysis-poor media landscape.

I was tracking down some of the academic research I was forced to do a few years ago. At the time, I hated all the theory, all I wanted to do was get out with the gear and meet people and talk to them and write a juicy story and get back and run with it.

Little has changed. Except now I care slightly more about why I’m doing it and what it all means.

So here’s a blast from my past, a theory of why people use television, by some chaps called McQuail, Blumner and Brown. They wrote this in the early 70s well before I was born, but I don’t see why it isn’t immediately applicable to today’s media.

Anyone producing content today should remind themselves why people need to consume their stuff and adapt to suit.

There are 4 ‘needs’ a person has:


Relaxation, escape, filling time, release of emotions.


Learning, advice, understanding the world.

Personal identity

Finding role models, forming personal values, understanding yourself.


Understanding and identifying with others, finding roles for ourselves, sharing common traits, and (perhaps sadly) substitution for real-life relationships.

Read that last one again. As true now, and more achievable now, than when the good gentlemen wrote it in 1972. Is it any wonder Facebook has become so popular.


Written by Robert

30 March, 2010 at 11:57 pm

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