“For all the apocalyptic news about newspapers, there’s a distinction worth making: Newspaper owners are far more endangered than the medium itself.”

via MediaWorks.

It’s important to realize that media is booming right now. What’s broken is the system where crusty old men take the piles of cash they already had and make more piles from printing and distributing media. Of course part of the fallout here is that most of the media that’s being made right now doesn’t make any money. That will change. Nobody said reinventing the wheel would be easy.

Aric Mayer has a good recap of the publishing crisis (here) where you can clearly see how the decision publishers made to put all their eggs in the advertising basket is now going to cost them dearly. After all those years of watering down their product to attract a more general audience, lowering the subscription rate to boost numbers and producing pathetic advertiser friendly content it seems that most magazines not only no longer have loyal readers but now the advertisers are gone too.

If that’s not enough, in what amounts to a perfect storm for publishing all these laid off editors, writers and photographers will be creating original content with their free time:
Web-only news sites started by recently unemployed journalists– Media Shift

The tide will be turning quickly for small, independent, efficient content producers. The first bit of good news comes from Advertising Age (here):

“In the past several months, there has been increasing evidence that the most easily measured metric on the web, the click, is not the right metric to use for many advertisers. And that’s good news for publishers struggling to monetize their content with online ads.”

With the news that San Francisco will soon be without a major daily newspaper (here) some see a smoldering crater, I see thousands of tiny saplings starting to take root.

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  1. out with the old in with the new!

  2. Thanks for this! There is certainly a new breed of content on the horizon…I look forward to being a part of it.


  3. Thank you—finally someone else is saying the crash of the printed product may not be so bad. People called me insane for saying the sooner the big papers fall, the better. Let’s get something new, something worthwhile, and something that doesn’t involve a billionaire publisher.

  4. At my last job as a journalist in a newspaper the nos were staggering: didn’t want to improve the web site, didn’t want sell online advertising, didn’t care about slide shows or interactive media, didn’t care if the web site was updated or if it worked properly, didn’t care about the quality of the production, didn’t want to promote the paper online.

    Newspapers are their own worst enemies. Thankfully it was not my lifelong career path. I found the industry abusive of its talent and I often described it as the cotton picking end of publishing. Writers, photographers–all of the content producers–are treated like tenant farmers with the convenient lure that they are allowed to do what they love.

    As independent content producers we are challenged to be smarter and more real. When we gain traction with the new technologies, I believe we will have better lives and careers.

    • @Ann-Marie Stillion, I agree, same problem here in France. It makes me sad seeing how newspapers are shooting themselves in the head every morning….

  5. Here’s another example of an upstart journalistic organization with an interesting business model:


    I agree the practice of “safe” content designed to appeal to, and promote, advertisers has taken its toll on many publications. It’s funny how the core principles of journalism (e.g., integrity, accuracy, objectivity, balance, etc.) turn out to be the things readers value in the long run. It’s also funny how readers tend not to be nearly as stupid as publishing executives think.

    In a lot of ways the Internet is the perfect medium for news. Add the lower overhead costs (no presses, delivery trucks, paper costs, etc.) and you have to believe at least some of a new breed of news organizations will find a successful, and profitable, model.

    But many Web sites are also guilty of producing content that panders to would-be advertisers rather than readers. And some purported Web news outlets are very sloppy in the accuracy and integrity departments. Winning visibility and respect is probably going to be the key challenging facing Web-focused upstarts.

    I believe there is more cause for hope than despair. Some exciting things are going to come out of this period of reinvention. I think your basic thesis is sound — there is a greater demand than ever for information. It’s greed, flawed business models and crushing overhead costs that are driving print media out of business.

  6. Love it! Select media continues to slash and burn, while those recently departed, start planting saplings. There is a certain irony in all of this, that I am sure isn’t lost on a lot of people.

    As for the recent issue of Time, it seemed terribly thin…

  7. Really well put. I’ve shared this post with many others in the business and had some long conversations. I don’t think anyone can see through to the other side, but one thing is certain: it’s not going to look like it does now.


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