We gave our network the name of Know More Media for several reasons. One was that we felt that our niche focus approach in an ongoing publishing format, with the ability to engage in conversations, would give our readers the chance to know more about that niche topic than from other formats. The other meaning may seem a little hokey, but we firmly see certain trends that make us believe that we are seeing the end of media as we have know it over the last century, hence the double meaning of "No More" media - or no more media as we have known it.
Consider these recent comments about the traditional newspaper and print business:
- "Tough year for the newspaper industry..."
- "The start of The Great Depression for professional journalists..."
- "Massive staff reductions have become and increasingly common development..."
- "More Than 2,000 Newspaper Jobs Lost"
- "Major...titles have experienced significant ad page erosion during 2005..."
- New York Times Co. said...that its fourth-quarter profit would plunge 39% from that of a year earlier
Here are the stories that contained these quotes:
1. This has been a tough year for the newspaper industry...We had to make changes to our newspaper to either reduce expenses or increase revenues. It was either this or go the route that newspapers across the country have had to go, and that is massive layoffs. We’re resisting that and trying to make changes that we can easily reverse in time.
2. Over the last 20 years, the number of cartoonists on the staff of daily newspapers nationwide has been cut in half. In the last month alone, the Tribune Company (owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and a half-dozen other prominent papers), has forced out well-known and award-winning cartoonists at the LA Times and Baltimore Sun, eliminating their positions entirely.
3. St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced newsroom cutbacks would reduce the editorial staff by 12%...
More Than 2,000 Newspaper Jobs Lost
Using the bizarre premise that newspapers can bring back lost circulation and ad revenue by making their products WORSE, top executives at major chains from The New York Times Company to Tribune took a butcher knife to staffing with buyouts and layoffs that appeared almost epidemic. Although some claim to be adding jobs on the business side for the purpose of boosting revenue and circulation, the loss of hundreds of jobs at so many major newspapers -- most of which are making tidy profits -- does not bode well for the industry's future and shows the dangers of the recent corporate takeovers of the business.
4. Time Inc.Cuts Staff; Los Angeles Times Ends National Edition
This year might as well be the start of The Great Depression for professional journalists and they are the story. More than 2,000 newspaper jobs have been lost this year, plus untold numbers at magazines and broadcasters. This erosion has been accelerating; each week late this year seems to bring new announcements of cut staff, shut bureaus, and ended editions. Latest are reports that magazine publisher Time, Inc., has cut 105 people (including uncharacteristically several top executives) and that The Los Angeles Times is ending its national edition. Both companies tried to cast these changes in a positive light, but flickering shadows of departing staff (the Times recently cut 85 staff) portray dimming pictures.
5. MASSIVE STAFF REDUCTIONS HAVE BECOME an increasingly common development for one major print medium--newspapers--and now they may be becoming a factor for another: magazines. Time Inc., the world's largest publisher of consumer magazines, Tuesday announced a restructuring of its business operations--laying off 105 employees,
the restructuring of Time Inc. is another telling sign of the pressures confronting print media as publishers try to make the transition to a digital publishing world--and the shift of advertising budgets toward digital media, especially online. Major Time Inc. titles have experienced significant ad page erosion during 2005. Pages in flagship Time magazine have fallen 14.2 percent through the first 11 months of 2005 versus the same period in 2004. Sports Illustrated is down 18.5 percent, Fortune is down 10.3 percent, Entertainment Weekly is down 6.4 percent, and Money is down 2.1 percent, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Among Time Inc.'s major titles, only People (up 6.9 percent), In Style (up 5.0 percent), and Real Simple (up 15.6 percent) are posting healthy ad pages gains.
Moreover, big magazines including Time Inc.'s are facing tough negotiations with media buyers for 2006 calendar year deals, which are dragging on--and are expecting that this will be the third consecutive year of either flat rates or decreases, placing even greater pressure on margins as paper and production costs continue to rise.
6. ''It's a transitional year," says Alex Jones, director of Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. ''And we're going to be in transition for longer than a year."
...It's all about style, speed, and an unending urge to give viewers more than just the facts, and newspapers are struggling to deliver the same things. But print editions only come out once a day -- and print circulation is nearly universally slipping. So papers are paying increasing attention to their websites, delivering layered content in the space where many readers seek it first.
7. New York Times Co. said after the market closed Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit would plunge 39% from that of a year earlier.
And finally, some sarcasm:
8. Newspapers will finally get their act together and become exciting, modern, user-friendly tools for life. A newspaper rolled up under the arm will be more hip and fashionable than dangling white earbuds. In an unrelated development, scientists will announce the birth of a pig with tiny, fully functional wings.
And a blunt editorial cartoon about about newsroom cuts.
Do you see a trend here?
Jeff Jarvis, like a watchman on a tower, has been proclaiming the demise of the traditional print media model in an ongoing series of articles.
Here are some of his observations about the trends he is seeing from his vantage point of someone who has made the transisiton from the old world to the new one.
...what interests me is that I think we are seeing the Japanese monster movie of journalism … or perhaps a more timely allusion would be King Kong: Dinosaurs v. the overgrown ape. The print people (you can guess at my casting; either that or Godzilla would be loaded) are holding onto their beliefs in objectivity for dear life. The online people have moved onto a new world.
American publishers aren’t facing the reality of life after presses
Business Week is abandoning print for its international editions to emphasize online instead
Blogboy [Jarvis] does his bugga-bugga about the distributed, post-scarcity, small-is-the-new-big, paperless, unplatform era of citizen control of media. I apparently have found my proper role in life: frightening people. But in this case, I was the one who was intimidated, because the Guardian is the most forward-thinking print organization I know and I was all the more impressed after watching their culture in action. And I was all the more cowed when, over drinks the night before meeting, Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger went years past where I planned to time-travel the next day. Talking about the presses they’d just spent tens of millions of pounds buying, he shrugged and said:
“They may be the last presses we ever own.”
Danny Schechter has this review of the trends he is seeing:
The search for higher profits is decapitating major newspapers...
THE DEEPER TRENDS
There are deeper trends and developments that need to be understood. The State of the Media 2005 report published earlier in the year: "The traditional press model - the journalism of verification - is one in which journalists are concerned first with trying to substantiate facts. It has ceded ground for years on talk shows and cable to a new journalism of assertion, where information is offered with little time and little attempt to independently verify its veracity."
What can be done about this? The same Pew Research Center study suggested: "To adapt, journalism may have to move in the direction of making its work more transparent and more expert, and of widening the scope of its searchlight. Journalists aspire in the new landscape to be the one source that can best help citizens discover what to believe and what to disbelieve - a shift from the role of gatekeeper to that of authenticator or referee. To do that, however, it appears news organizations may have to make some significant changes. They may have to document their reporting process more openly so that audiences can decide for themselves whether to trust it. Doing so would help inoculate their work from the rapid citizen review that increasingly will occur online and elsewhere."
CITIZEN JOURNALISM ON THE RISE
One of the bright spots in a depressing year was the rise of citizen journalism. Sunil Saxena of Newwind press in Mumbai India writes about it:
The year 2005 witnessed a new phenomenon—the birth of the Citizen Journalist. It was this journalist who captured the awesome power of tsunami just days before 2005 began; it was this journalist who flashed the first images of the Underground rail blasts in London; it was this journalist who showed flames leaping from Platform Three of ONGC's oil well in the Arabian Sea; it was this journalist who gave first-hand information of Hurricane Katrina …
The mainstream media arrived later, borrowed or bought these images and showed the world its ‘‘exclusives.'' Was this an accident? Or is this a sign of changing times?
Yes, the times they are a changing from India to Indiana, and many media moguls seem the last ones to get it. With disasters more in the news, the disaster of our media world is also becoming evident to more and more people who have turned their complaints into an issue they want to do something about.
Joe Strupp reports in Editor & Publisher, the newspaper industry trade magazine:
If newspaper companies don't start looking down the road to understand how podcasts and RSS and Craigslist and blogs are changing their businesses, they may as well throw in the towel right now.
True, the online advertising market has yet to mature, but research firm after research firm is predicting growth near 25% in 2006. Is your online ad sales staff prepared to reach or exceed that? Can they sell advertisers on the benefits behavioral targeting, and cite the studies and statistics to back it up?
So, what do we see from all of these data points? We see the decline of:
The traditional media model, with centralized (primarily New York) editorial control.
Models where information flows uni-directional, with little allowance for correction or clarification or discussion.
Models that proclaim their objectivity to the increasing disbelief of their audience.
Models that do not show transparency of their sources so they might allow their audience to determine their degree of trust.
Models that serve as gatekeepers rather than authenticaters.
We are big believers in indentifying trends and trying to build businesses that play into those trends, not because we like to be trendy, but because we think it is easier to grow a company where industry growth rates are high and where there is increasing flow of users and consumers in that space. Much easier than trying to battle out for market share in a mature and entrenched industry. In the creation of establishing a new business publication, the natural choice as we looked at barriers, at trends, and at opportunities was to launch online. I will write more in the future about some of the positive trends and opportunities we see.