Media Equation

Media Equation

The Old World of media is changing, partly due to current economic conditions but mostly due to a restructuring of how people receive their news and information. To say it is all moving online is a bit simplistic, but the situation can be summarized in some sense: In a wired world, information wants to be free. But during this transition, is an economic model keeping pace with the changing readership demographics? Most certainly not. And with retail and housing sectors taking in on the chin, media is close behind. It is almost hard to keep up with the daily announcements of media companies’ and newpaper publishers’ “restructuring” efforts.

A couple announcements of note: First, Time Inc., the nation’s largest magazine publisher, announced it would be laying off as many as 600 people. According to this Folio article, these cuts come in the wake cuts that have already taken place. “Last week, there were approximately 30 layoffs at Time Inc.’s Southern Progress group. Time Inc. had already cut roughly 100 jobs from its magazine publishing division this year.”

And also late last month, The New York Times published an article highlighting only a few of the recent layoffs among newspaper publishers. “Clearly the sky is falling,” the newspaper said. “The question now is how many people are going to be left to cover it.”

A summary from the article:”It’s been an especially rotten few days for people who type on deadline. On Tuesday, The Christian Science Monitor announced that, after a century, it would cease publishing a weekday paper ,,, And Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, compounded the grimness by announcing it was laying off 10 percent of its work force — up to 3,000 people ,,, t goes on. The day before, the Tribune Company had declared that it would reduce the newsroom of The Los Angeles Times by 75 more people, leaving it approximately half the size it was just seven years ago. The Star-Ledger of Newark, the 15th-largest paper in the country, which was threatened with closing, will apparently survive, but only after it was announced that the editorial staff would be reduced by 40 percent.”

The New York Times article does a good job of explaining what has become obvious to all of us who work in the industry. Clearly there is still demand for our product, as more people than ever are reading newspapers and magazines. The catch is that they are not reading on paper any longer, and 90 percent of revenues still come from printed advertisements. Ours is an industry ripe for a technological innovation. We’ve got the content that can’t be found anywhere else. The Times story ends with a prescient story.

“At the recent American Magazine Conference, one of the speakers worried that if the great brands of journalism — the trusted news sources readers have relied on — were to vanish, then the Web itself would quickly become a “cesspool” of useless information. That kind of hand-wringing is a staple of industry gatherings.

“But in this case, it wasn’t an old journalism hack lamenting his industry. It was Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google.”