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Posted at 8:36 AM ET, 11/23/2010

Story pick: Not about the future of news

By Michael S. Rosenwald

What is the future of news? Is it shorter stories? Is it social? Is it hyperlocal? Is it objective? Is it even in words? Wait: Is there even a future of news? This blog has asked these questions several times over the last year or so, part of the echo chamber of journalists constantly worrying about themselves and their craft.

But I hereby pause the handwringing over the future of news to highlight handwringing elsewhere. This time, the question is, What is the future of advertising? (If you think about these two questions enough -- the future of advertising and journalism -- it becomes a little chicken-eggish.)

Anyway, Fast Company has a long, intriguing look at Madison Avenue's future in its new issue. Written by Danielle Sacks, the piece opens with a strange, revival-like scene near New York's Chinatown, where a group of ad reps with too many feet in the old world of advertising are taking a three-day crash course with some alleged digital ad geniuses from a school in, of all places, Sweden. The school is called Hyper Island. Okay then.

Sacks writes: "Last summer, the Swedes at Hyper Island recognized that where there's panic, there's opportunity, and opened this New York branch. Like the many foreigners who settled in this downtown locale before, the school arrived with its own set of promises -- to drag the denizens of Madison Avenue into the 21st century. While its students back in Sweden are 'digital natives,' these elder New Yorkers are 'digital immigrants,' who have gathered for three days of hard-core immersion in dealing with the chaos digital technology has wrought on their industry. 'Something digital immigrants would do,' explains one instructor, 'is make a phone call to make sure someone received an email.'"

It turns out that big companies don't trust "old-world" ad agencies to get their messages out through (perhaps) "old-world" media outlets like (perhaps) this newspaper. So these "old-world" ad agencies, facing competition from hotshot disrupters intent on overturning the industry, are really freaking out, just like their "old-world" counterparts in the media business, who are also facing competition from hotshot disrupters intent on overturning the business.

By Michael S. Rosenwald  | November 23, 2010; 8:36 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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Next: Story pick: On the Butterball

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