Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

More crumbling in the crumbling print business model as New York Times and Philly papers announce hundreds of layoffs...

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 20, 2005

. . . the sharp end of the disruption process

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Crystal_Ball.jpgMy recent post about the center of the media industry moving to Silicon Valley and nobody told New York drew some attention, especially from the excellent I Want Media web site run by New York based journalist Patrick Phillips.

In the post (fourth item) I said Google, Yahoo, Ebay are technology enabled media companies and they are hiring like crazy while New York's venerable media industry is not.

It was good timing given that the New York Times just announced 500 job cuts, and Knight Ridder said 100 newsroom jobs are going at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. Just the latest crumblings of a crumbling print business model.

It's not much fun being a journalist inside a crumbling business model. You are doing two or three jobs, everyone is in a bad mood, there are no pay raises, and on top of everything else, you are often expected to "blog" for your employer.

I tell my journalist friends that they should come and join me. It is far better to be on the side of the disrupting forces than to be on the sharp receiving end of the disruption.

It's true that I don't yet have much of a business model, but, I know that things can only get better on my side of the equation. Not much chance of things getting better on the print side of the business...

I'm not against print; it is just another distribution channel, as is is online. The problem is that if you have a business built on the old economics of the print advertising model, it can't be supported by today's advertising (print and online) ad revenues.

But if you start off from the lowest cost position (a blogger(s) in a bedroom :-) you will eventually inherit the earth. Because nobody can get in under your cost model (except for a blogger in a bedroom living free at their parent's house and using mom's computer!)

What worries me, however, is that online media business models are still being created and they cannot yet distinguish between good content and bad content. We need that virtuous cycle to be established so that the best content creators are rewarded and can re-invest in producing yet more great content.

Right now, the old media business models are in trouble and the new media business models are not yet in place.

What happens if we continue to lose the former and we are unable to create the latter?

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