December 17, 2008 In Uncategorized
Is Today's Print Media On the Wrong Track??
By, Justin Finnegan, Senior Account Executive, Fusion PR
and Chris Michaels, Senior Account Manager, Fusion PR
In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, James Surowiecki has a very interesting piece on the failures of the newspaper industry to remain relevant in an increasingly electronic world. What really struck a chord was Surowiecki’s comparison of the newspaper industry to the railroad industry 50 years ago:
“Had the [railroad] bosses realized that they were in the transportation business, rather than the railroad business, they could have moved into trucking and air transport, rather than letting other companies dominate. By extension, many argue that if newspapers had understood they were in the information business, rather than the print business, they would have adapted more quickly and more successfully to the Net.”
This becomes increasingly important as some of the largest publications are migrating towards online distribution. Some of those, like US News and World Report, are going to an exclusive online ditribution model.
Yet, as John Kroblin points out in the NY Observer, there are still some old media conductors, hanging onto the rusting rails of print.
Recently, Forbes managing editor, Andy Serwer, conveined a meeting to congratulate the successes of Forbes.com and it’s breaking news coverage. He applauded the nimbleness of the online reporters, and their ability to quickly react to urgent stories that kept the outlet as a premiere online destination for leading news.
Yet, only a few months later, the .com arm of the brand is almost completely disbanded. This comes as the holding company, Time Warner, has decided that breaking news is no longer important, and its properties like CNN Money and Forbes.com needed to cut the fat (in the form of 600 online reporters) to remain “profitable.”
Profit being the operative word. Apparently publishers today don’t think that online readers are “worth” the same as print readers; therefore you can’t undercut your revenues of paid print subscriptions by giving away the information for free on the Internet. Wasn’t that the case for upgrading to newer engines? Profitibility?
Much like the modern rail systems, global media outlets have made great improvements over time. The adoption of wire services and electronic filing could arguably have given the old steam engine a diesel changeout. Then by adding the Internet, we were seeing introductions into the electric age. Some might argue that certain outlets have embraced the Web 2.0 advancements so much, that we were seeing bullet-train infrastructures.
However, by ignoring the fact that these publications are indeed in the informaiton market, not the printing market, the advancements have returned the media to turn-of-the-century levels. Unfortunately, by stymieing the growth of the publication by ignoring or eliminating the Web, many of the publications today are downgrading from diesel and electric trains, back to corroded steam engines.