Why the old media model is utterly broken

A very good piece by Bob Garfield in Advertising Age explains why not only print is dead, but the rest of the media as well

The key is this quote from Randall Rothenberg: 

“Today the average 14-year-old can create a global television network with applications that are built into her laptop. So from a very strict Econ 101 basis, you have the ability to create virtually unlimited supply against what has been historically relatively stable demand.”

Yes, I know I bang on about it. But this is at the core of the whole debate.

A lot of journalists and media folk get very upset about the decline of newspapers, magazines or TV news. They tend to blame it on quality issues, or the stupidity of media owners not charging for content, or the lack of investment in content, or whatever.

But, really, it’s a supply and demand thing. The barriers of entry to publishing have collapsed almost utterly over the past few years. In many ways it’s as easy to be a content producer as it is to be a content consumer. And more interesting. So it’s little wonder that the media is facing a perfect storm.

It’s well worth reading. And, seriously, this is a structural problem that won’t go away when the recession is over, and won’t be solved by tweaking the present model. The media landscape is changing irrevocably. Be ready…



Filed under Journalism

5 responses to “Why the old media model is utterly broken

  1. The acid test:

    Can an average 14-year-old create a TV network that anyone would consider worth watching?

    The answer is “probably not”.

    Substitute ‘average 14-year-old’ with “team of experienced professional TV network executives” and ask the same question.

    Is the answer the same?

    • Sorry, Bill, the answer to your second question isn’t clear-cut. Some of those “experienced professional execs” can create watchable networks; an awful lot think they are, but are losing viewers and money hand over fist. We already had a massive oversupply of “professional” media before citizen content exploded onto the scene, and that problem still needs fixing.

      Thinking about it, the answer to your first question isn’t clear-cut, either. 14-year olds don’t want to create an entire network. Five minutes a week is probably their ambition – and they might do a bloody good five minutes a week. But there are a hell of a lot more 14-year olds in the world than TV networks – or even TV execs…

  2. It IS utterly broken. For all the reasons he (and you) cite so often. Plus many more.

    I’m fed up hearing media folks lamenting the passing of print and wondering when the ‘new model’ will become apparent (this is the ‘new model’ that will allow us to go right on doing what we’ve always done. Just online, not in print).

    Get over it. There is no new model, nor will there be one. 500 years of print data dissemination is over. Everything that went with it is over. Gone, broken, finished.

    Journalism, as we have known it, is also dead. Teams of pompous, self-absorbed people earning their livings by delivering ponderous, earnest and take-it-or-leave-it ‘news’ and ‘features’ on dead trees are soon to be extinct. The readers don’t need us any more. Guess what? They never wanted us, much. They just had no choice, because ours was the only game in town.

    Same ‘problem’ for network television. We only watched it (and all those tiresome ads) when it was the only moving image available outside the cinema. Now we have a choice. And we’re voting with our mouse.

    The internet is ripping up everything that media professionals think they know about everything. The destruction is total and awesome, and we ain’t seen the half of it yet.

  3. Did photography kill painting?
    I guess not.

    There are changes all the time. It’s never easy, but changes are always chances for developing. Painters changed their strategies but they still paint. Writers will write. It’s our challenge to deal with it.

    • freelanceunbound

      No – but it did change it dramatically. When photography took over the job of representation, painting found itself used more and more for interpretation of the world – it became more abstract and experimental.

      That’s why we in the media must be radical when it comes to adapting our old ways to the new reality – or we end up in a museum!

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