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

You can't get there from here - Why mainstream media is way up a creek...

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 21, 2007

I love the American saying "You can't get there from here" because it is perfect for describing the gaping chasm that mainstream (oldstream) media faces in transitioning to the newstream media.

I've been warning about this issue for nearly three years, ever since I left the FT and saw the economics of the new media. I could see that there was no way that the legacy cost structure of old media could be supported by the new media business models.

Mainstream media is screwed not because they didn't embrace blogging RSS, etc, in time. It wouldn't have mattered if they were doing it from the very beginning of blogging. And it matters little that their online sites are growing in readership or if Google AdSense and other ad networks paid them twice the going rate--it is not enough.

Here is an excellent analysis, by the numbers, by Henry Blodget the former Wall Street star analyst of the dotcom boom - of the New York Times online business versus its newspaper business:

It's easy to say that the New York Times and other newspaper companies are screwed, but sometimes it helps to actually run the numbers. Do you know why they're screwed? It's actually not the cost of paper, ink, trucks, printing plants, and other physical distribution expenses. Rather, it's the cost of content creation.

Senior New York Times reporters believe they are underpaid, and, relative to other highly educated folks at the peak of their professions, they sure are. But relative to the online revenue they generate, those talented reporters, columnists, editors, and researchers actually cost a fortune.

Link to: Silicon Valley Insider. http://www.alleyinsider.com/2007/08/its-easy-to-say.html

We are witnessing a historic moment n our society and one that will be scary for a while. Media is how we think through difficult problems. We need a high quality professional media to sort through and present us with high quality information so that we can make the best decisions.

Otherwise it is garbage-in, garbage out, a software engineering term that explains itself.

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