In a previous post, we've listed down the three factors that gauge the effectiveness of a communications medium. Again, our current media-heavy environment has blurred the lines between what one medium can do over another, so the focus has shifted more towards effectiveness, with greater involvement of the recipient of the communications message.
At the core of these three factors is audience, which is an integral part of the communications cycle. Without an audience, there is no communication. There won't even be a reason to communicate at all without the awareness of an audience. (Unless, of course, the audience is oneself.)
The three factors:
1) Accessibility. There was a time when radio was the medium of choice. It was cheap, and you could get all the information you thought you needed over the lifespan of those 20-pound Eveready batteries. But radio gave way to television. Television evolved from a few channels to a few dozens on cable. Then the internet changed the media landscape. However, the internet isn't available everywhere. At least not yet. And there are still areas in the Philippines that rely on radio and newspapers.
With physical accessibility comes fiscal accessibility as well--is the medium within the reach of the audience's pockets? This physical and fiscal accessibility figured greatly in the dwindling sales of broadsheets in the US, as more people have become reliant on the Web for news. Accessibility is one of the reasons, they say, that the Philippine comics industry experienced a downturn. With television shows that came in for free, people strapped for disposable income had less reason to buy comics for their entertainment needs.
2) Content quality. The catchphrase "content is king" applies when dealing with the effectiveness of the medium. However, quality is relative. One's idea of quality depends on what one is looking for. There was a time when short fiction was a staple in popular magazines, but these stories have given way to more advertising-friendly content. Literary novels can feel secure in books--their film adaptations hardly come close to the originals. And comics will always be relied upon for superhero stories--its association with other genre like romance and crime stories has relented to television, film and fiction. Those who had worked in the local comics industry had said that poor quality had contributed significantly to the death of the industry.
3) Approval of a critical mass. The audience has to acknowledge and support the medium, and this audience has to constitute a critical mass. In our statistics-savvy culture, critical mass is determined by sales, survey results, signatures, and other constructs that tell us if we're hitting home. This also includes customer feedback.
"Approval" is relative as well. A comics creator can decide to content himself with 1000 copies worth of sales, and this figure can be his benchmark for critical mass, but a blogger would be challenged to rack up a target of four-figure hits a day. A cross-media strategy has become the norm, with content being adapted in numerous media to address the different learning styles of audiences. Professional experts, in an effort to capitalize on their expertise, have created a range of products involving audiovisual presentations, software, books (print and audio), software and seminars (live and online) that promote their crusade to varying results.
As far as comics goes, the industry supposedly died because of plummeting sales, suggesting that the public no longer found anything in comics worth spending on.
So what does this mean for the comics creator? Find out in the next post.