Today, more content is accessible, in more formats, on more devices, for more people than ever before. But quantity does not necessarily mean quality. Research into how media companies are transforming from single sector (eg, print or broadcast) to digital multi-platform suppliers of content highlights a tendency in some cases to re-use a narrow pool of material.
Many media companies embarked on multi-platform strategies when, because of recession or competitive pressures, their budgets were constrained, says Professor Gillian Doyle. Although investment in new equipment and skills has improved cost-efficiency, what has made the journey to multiplatform feasible is, in many cases, recycling of output rather than any wholesale increase in productivity.
While adding to a cornucopia of media content, multi-platform expansion also poses challenges for media pluralism. "Pluralism is about having different voices in the media," she says.
While some argue there is no need to worry about promoting pluralism in a digital era, Professor Doyle disagrees. "More volume is not the same as better and more diverse," she says. "We are not talking about supplying cars or baked beans, but the avenues through which people form their ideas about how the world works. I'm not convinced recent developments in the sector adequately serve these ends."