Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Att: Media People ... Just Get Used to It

I’m usually very optimistic – you know, glass half full kind of guy. That’s been a lot harder lately when thinking about the state of the media industry these days. While I remain excited by the opportunities that technology increasingly affords us – as writer/editors and as readers – it’s also hard to deny the increasingly apparent conclusion that the dramatic loss of advertising that knocked the stool out from under the industry in the last 18 months or so isn't coming back. It's not coming back to print or TV, and it’s not all migrating to the web either.

Now one of the nation’s most reputable research firms has issues a new report that puts it in blunt terms: The horror show of the last year or so is the new normal (See Forbes.com’s “The New Normal Is Ugly”). Get used to it.

Yes, there will still be advertising, but it’s not likely to be in the large and concentrated doses that the media industry came to expect over the last few decades. That means one of three things essentially:
1. Some other, new advertising model that promises robust gains (for a wide swath of players) must be created/discovered;
2. Consumers will need to start regularly ponying up (cash and/or serious personal consumer info); or
3. Quality content will become far more rare than we think it is already.

The journalism side of this morass is not much more encouraging. As Clay Shirky eloquently stats on his blog: “chaos is our lot.” Obviously, things are in an evolutionary state of flux. The transition from “State A to State B,” as Shirkey puts it, will take some time (years, if not decades, perhaps) ... So, again, like or not, we need to get used to it!

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