Mega mergers are sweeping the entertainment industry, resulting in fewer, big-name organizations controlling much of the news and entertainment available to us at both the local and national level. Among the consequences of this concentration is the minimization of voices and perspectives from diverse communities. In particular, local narratives by BIPOC, women, the LGBTQ community and young people have been diminished or distorted by conglomerate decision makers who are disconnected from the lived experience of their audience. Ironically, these creatives have contributed to the enrichment of large media stakeholders even though they have not been able to fully participate in the media industry’s wealth creation.
Countering this trend is the explosion of on-demand entertainment platforms which have democratized content creation and distribution. As the traditional balance between creators and distributors is disrupted, creative innovators have many more accessible paths to sharing their compelling narratives. The dramatic decreases in the cost of cameras and equipment, the development of digital media techniques, and the establishment of internet-based distribution platforms have also contributed to making it more accessible and affordable for underrepresented creatives to tell and share their stories.
The emergence of the resulting “new media,” including social media and portable immersive experiences (i.e., podcasts, audio books, VOD streaming applications, etc.), offers a fantastic opportunity for traditionally marginalized communities to retake control of their narratives. These voices are no longer reliant on traditional media outlets to reach the consumer. In fact, all communities outside of major media markets can compete more effectively for shelf space. Although significant barriers to entry remain, the playing field has been made more even in ways that were not imaginable even a few years ago.
Wisconsin is well positioned to exploit these emergent media trends. The excellent regional higher education system supplies a network of skilled media experts and production technicians, and Wisconsin is home to a talented stable of musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, writers, dancers and other creatives offering fresh perspectives that have been underexplored. These assets can be organized to satisfy consumers that, increasingly, crave authentic content reflecting their lived experience.
Harnessing Milwaukee’s rich history as a production hub, Nō Studios is embracing new media as a vehicle to advance the artistry of Milwaukee creatives. We have invested in upgrades to our production capacity and e-production expertise to further this ambition. In addition, we have formed partnerships with like-minded organizations with national and international footprints so that our platform can bridge Milwaukee creatives to a broader audience.
It is now possible to mitigate the inherent bias resulting from media consolidation through the reimagining of production techniques and distribution channels that break down barriers to entry. And with this, the tools are available to satisfy an audience that increasingly demands to see themselves reflected in the content that they are consuming. Wisconsin can play a leading role in the new media industry and, in doing so, support communities that have not had equal participation on traditional media platforms.
This column is part of “25 big ideas for Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin’s future,” a feature included in the BizTimes Milwaukee 25th anniversary issue. To read other contributions, visit biztimes.com/bigideas