I have long felt that the second people start making serious money online the competition will get fierce and we’re back to where we were before. My only fear is that some of these codgers who run the media companies will not get punished enough to either rethink their relationship with content providers or lose their shorts to someone who understands the value of high quality content.

Most Internet companies are alive only because they are propped up by cheap venture capital financing that is in the process of drying up. On a straight up basis, a traditional media company with a strong brand and digital product should be able to out-compete all but the best Internet-only companies. In the past, traditional media companies were weak online out of fear of cannibalizing the offline revenue and cash flow that sustained their valuations and debt loads. They will soon have a great deal less to lose, likely under fresh ownership and management. It’s time for traditional media to rise up and exact its revenge.

via Forbes.com.

One important thing to point out as well and this is where I disagree with the author on “re-booting” of media, is that owning media companies may not be as profitable as it once was. That doesn’t have to mean the contributors and employees get paid less either. It’s just that the owners need to love the product more than the greenbacks it delivers. That’s more of a re-booting of corporations which it feels like we may be in the midst of.

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  1. Some interesting comments but I fail to see how this would fall into the category of a Photo Editor, which this purports to be. Where’s the photo comments?

    • @Frank Reid,

      Ask the photographers and photo editors who used to work for magazines that folded or are in danger of folding.

      • @Mason, You’re correct. After thirty-five years as both a photojournalist and Director of Photography for newspapers and now looking for new opportunities…it’s very relevant for all of us.

  2. There’s an interesting article making the rounds this morning on ‘content’ and how we have never really paid for it.


    “Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics.”

    Most magazines all cost the same amount on the newsstand, no matter what is on their pages. The big difference of course, is the power of the brands. The ‘traditional media’ companies are the ones who have the strongest brands, and their ‘revenge’ is basically just flexing that brand muscle both online and off. And of course, a brand is just a promise of quality – and for that it needs quality content (for which there will always be a need).

  3. When you say “the industry” what exactly do you mean? I think one of the issues here is “the industry” is evolving. All traditional vehicles providing information (including the Internet) will undergo change. If you knew how the industry will evolve, making money would be fairly easy.

    While it is certainly true that nothing lures investors to a marketplace more than obscene profits; I think the issue is more complicated than just companies starting to make money. In fact, I submit some of the early market success stories probably won’t be ultimate survivors. This is about finding, and maintaining, the right mix of content and the right distribution mechanism. The difficult part is the right mix/distribution model will always be a moving target. This is a market for the nimble.

    It certainly seems many of the large media companies assume they are guaranteed a place at the table simply by virtue of their bigness. I suspect many will be disappointed.

    Top signs of potential winners:

    — Research driven. Knowing exactly what people want is a key to success. And I do think this is about actual people — consumers. It’s not about pleasing advertisers first and assuming the consumers will follow. It’s the other way round.

    — Implementation savvy. Time to market is going to be critical. Time to adapt will be even more critical. Getting the look/feel right is paramount. See item one — doing good research is really going to be important. But so is investing in the right talent to make things happen quickly.

    — Ability to react. Any company with more than four levels of management probably won’t be able to react quickly enough to changing market conditions.

    — Predictable quality. I really think consistency is going to be important. A lot of media organizations skate by on occasionally brilliant content. Like it or not, media organizations are going to have to hire good talent again. People who work cheap aren’t always good.

    Top signs of potential losers:

    Protectionism. You have to be willing to tear up your business model every week if necessary. Companies that protect sacred cash cow businesses will ultimately lose.

    Bloated infrastructure. If it takes more than a few meetings to make a decision it will probably be too late.

    Inflexibility. I don’t think this is simply about going “online.” It’s about matching the best content to the best output vehicle. I think print, for example, will continue to have a place — but not always as regular publication. Again, understanding what people really want is a key.

    Timidity. One of the great things about start-up organizations is they have little to lose. They can take chances. Big companies want proof for everything. Things that are proven have already been done. Companies willing to take chances are the ones most likely to find the new market opportunities. That means being willing to take chances and be willing to fail. That probably favors privately held ventures over public companies.

  4. Michael Massing had a very good article in last month’s New York Review of Books on this topic…


    I found his discussion on non-profit news particularly interesting as it was new ground for me.

  5. any ideas on who you think the first big media company to learn its lesson and reboot will be?


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