Follow @TheMediaIsDying is on Twitter, and you’ll be inundated hourly with news of more closings, layoffs or furloughs at newspapers. Today, Paul Armstrong, the part-time journalist and former communications manager at MySpace who’s behind The Media Is Dying, pens a column for BusinessWeek on what’s behind the carnage he chronicles daily and what newspapers can do to fix it.
He starts by laying the blame at, well, us!
If we’re looking to affix blame, we should look no farther than to ourselves. At the most basic, we stopped “buying” it. Newer generations never grew up depending on newspapers—they’d consider it anachronistic to write the local paper a check for a subscription. At the same time, the “old media” still do not grasp the technological and sociological changes associated with this generational independence. There is a huge miscommunication between creator and consumer in terms of value propositions. Nothing has gone “wrong,” per se, it is simply a changed balance of power. Creator and consumer are no longer tied to the other. The unchallenged power shift of the classified advertising section becoming Craigslist, Google, et al., is a fascinating example of this. Publishers of a medium that is outdated by the time it hits the curb failed to act when these new entrants satisfied the consumer and stole the franchise.
But never fear. Armstrong still sees value in media and journalism (whew!). News providers, however, must refocus to provide useful content in a format relevant to how audiences wish to consume that content. Then it has to pay for it:
Media, get into our daily routines any way you can and make sure you stay there. Once there, cultivate additional income through advertising that adds to, rather than detracts from, the reason we came to you. The new game is not about control; it is a call for utility, freedom, and the user experience.