In the final weeks of 2023, Velocity of Content is looking back at the past twelve months of programs.

Citizen. Journalist. Influencer. War crimes investigator. Leading figures in the global community of creators go by many titles. We read their words, and we watch their videos, scrolling through our content feeds in search of meaning – and for meaningful connection.

Click below to listen to the latest episode of the Velocity of Content podcast.

Journalism professor and book author Jeff Jarvis recalls that early in his own writing and publishing career, he wrote on typewriters and saw his stories set in hot metal linotype. His latest book, The Gutenberg Parenthesis, places us outside the era of print and beyond the world that print created. As transmission of knowledge and creativity shifts off the page and onto the screen, Jarvis urges that we celebrate not mourn.

In late March 2023, National Public Radio announced cancellation of several broadcast and podcast programs, as well as the layoffs of 10% of its national staff. The NPR cuts were the deepest the network has made since the Great Recession in 2008. The network’s CEO blamed a budget deficit of $30 million. Executives said they were seeking to protect core services, and they pointed a finger at declines in corporate underwriting.

American news consumers are unfazed by hearing that programming on NPR and other nonprofit public media is made possible by for-profit businesses. But Victor Pickard, co-director of the Media, Inequality and Change Center at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, wants to take a closer look.

TikTok challenges can range from the sublime to the ridiculous – and even the dangerous. There are challenges over art projects, school bathrooms, and sometimes fatally, boat jumping. Now, TikTok may have a challenge for publishers. In May, TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance, sought a trademark for its own book publishing imprint, to be called 8th Note Press. The New York Times and others reported that the fledgling publisher is approaching self-published authors with offers for book deals. The advances aren’t large, but the implications for the industry are enormous.

Mark Gottlieb, vice president and literary agent with Trident Media Group, described the bookselling power that TikTok already has, and why a publisher TikTok represents a digital-first challenge to traditional players.

At the World Expression Forum in Lillehammer, Norway, the International Publishers Association presented a Prix Voltaire Special Award for murdered Ukrainian children’s book author and poet, Volodymyr Vakulenko, who was abducted and murdered by Russian armed forces in March 2022, shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Accepting the 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire Special Award on behalf of Volodymyr Vakulenko was the Ukrainian novelist Victoria Amelina, who received the Joseph Conrad Literary Award from the Polish Institute in Kyiv in 2021 and was a European Union Prize for Literature finalist in 2019. In May, Victoria Amelina told me why she ventured to Ukaine’s Kharkiv region to Kapitolivka, where Volodymyr Vakulenko lived with his family, and how discovered the author’s journal buried in the family garden.

A month after our interview, and immediately following the International Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv where she spoke about Vakulenko, Victoria Amelina was fatally injured in a Russian missile attack on a restaurant in Kramatorsk in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Yuliia Kozlovets, the book festival’s coordinator, told me that the national community of Ukrainian authors and publishers has struggled to make sense of her death.

Media – whether published by individuals or global corporations – has never been easier to make or been more ubiquitous. Technology sees to that. Yet we must not take for granted how critical these media activities are to the joy of celebrating our humanity and to the responsibility of sustaining our freedom.

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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