These days newspapers are full of pictures of prototypes for new electric cars. Audi, BMW, VW and others are all presenting the results of wild ideas that are born in their research or design departments. Maybe they look futuristic or as though they escaped from a science fiction movie. But at least they are the result of a thinking process and a vision. And when you look at the actual design of a Ford Mondeo or Audi TT or Peugeot’s latest models, you can easily recognise the influence from the design “exercises.”

Meanwhile you can also watch at YouTube a movie called “Productivity Future Vision” made by Microsoft. Not Apple, Microsoft. Are they starting to take the lead in new developments? At least they have vision. And more than 2 million people have watched the movie already.

Other places that attract the attention of media and journalists these days are economic think tanks like the Belgian institutes Itinera or Econopolis. If media want to have comments about scenarios for the future, they always look at those trend watchers, experts, design labs. And you know what? Their opinions are sexy, attractive and worth learning more about. Food for in-depth discussions. Food for the creation of decisions. People believe in it.

Media often ask themselves what they can learn from other industries. Well...this is a great opportunity. People in all social classes need information and entertainment. Some of the biggest technical evolutions of the last couple of years took place in our world. The portable devices, the social networks, the permanent connectivity, et cetera. We all have opinions, and we all have our personal ideas of how the media will need to change. But we miss that great place that creates opinions for our future.

Perhaps it’s time to create an independent media lab. A place where creative minds and specialists in media economics work together to create a vision of how we as an industry will grow and change. How we will be an important part in the world that we see in the vision of Microsoft, Audi, Econopolis and other trend watchers. The discussion would soon change from “survival of newspapers” to “new opportunities and challenges for newspapers.”

Nobody says that cars will die because of the shortage of oil and the congestion of traffic. Why? Because they build their own story of the future. Nobody will think that the dominant mental position of Apple will be forever, without Microsoft fighting back. Because they show us what they think, and how they create a positive, constructive and attractive world when you see their potential products.

That’s why I promote the idea of a media lab. Under the wings of INMA? As an example, this could include a group of specialists from big groups like Fairfax, Times of India, The New York Times, Telegraph Media, Corelio, Folha de Säo Paulo and some academics like professor Robert Picard, consultants like Innovation, and other creative minds from outside the industry.

Is this just an idea? I mean it. When you’re under fire in an economic war, the best thing you can do is create your own future. The alternative is staying in the trenches. Since World War I we’ve known in Belgium that that’s the perfect recipe for long periods of dark nights and misery without progress.

Let’s make a choice for progress. Let’s go for positive news. Let’s fight with brand new ideas! Let us surprise the world again. Let us be leaders instead of followers!