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We've asked 114 leaders from 11 ministry spheres about evangelical priorities for the next 50 years. Here's what they said about publishing and broadcasting.

Today's new media pose a challenge for Christian publishing and broadcasting—and tomorrow's look to be a downright conundrum.

Already, industry insiders are talking about on-demand kiosks that will print paperbacks right in bookstores within seconds. These kiosks' product lists could number into the hundreds of thousands, offering bestsellers, stand-alone book chapters, and self-published titles from authors around the globe.

They also imagine broadband sites and iPod/cell-phone services that will broadcast original programming from media giants alongside YouTube-style self-productions. The old media won't die, most agree, it will just be distributed in new ways, and it will face greater competition from new technologies. Radio will confront popular podcasts; TV, viral videos; books and magazines, e-publications.

Big companies can expect to lose their monopoly on mass communication, as cheap, accessible media production opens the floodgates to nearly everyone with a message to share. The professionals will vie with amateurs for consumers' attention—amateurs who can target niche groups and who don't need to turn a profit to survive. As a result, audiences may become more and more specialized. ("Tennis-loving, Reformed youth pastors in the greater Cleveland area, this is for you …" "Attention, Episcopal mothers of adopted Chinese children …")

Yet in a world in which every individual is his or her own "media baron," as John Roos of the Inspiration Networks puts it, quality content will still rise to the top. The surface challenge of technology calls for ...

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In the Magazine

October 2006

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