The Road Ahead: July 2009

In his keynote at the American Association of Advertising Agencies in New Orleans, Bob Schieffer said, “that if the railroad companies had thought of themselves as being in the business of transportation, rather than just the business of railroads, they’d likely own all the airlines today. If the news media believes itself in the business of selling newspapers or aggregating television viewers, rather than being in the business of delivering the highest quality news experience over the best available media, they have already lost. Even worse is if news media outlets believe themselves in the business of delivering advertising rather than news.”- Joe Marchese writing in his June 16 Online Spin for Media Post Publications.

Speaking at the same conference, Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt advised publishers “. . continue to look to the business model that he believes is best suited to digital age, and which is the source of 97% of Google’s revenues–advertising. There’s room for other media business models–like subscriptions and micro-payments–but not at the same scale,” he argued. The reason: those models rely on scarcity, which the Internet continues to break down. “The Internet distribution model doesn’t work on scarcity, it works on ubiquity.” – As reported by Jessica E. Vascellaro for the WSJ Digital Network.

Ironically, a recent Nielsen survey revealed that reader’s trust in newspaper advertising dropped 2 per cent last year. But the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism believes, “The death of newspapers is not imminent, despite news of bankruptcies and even some closures. The industry still took in roughly $38 billion last year, and earned profits in double digits. Some 48 million newspapers are sold everyday. Even newspapers whose companies are in bankruptcy are profitable. But revenues fell 14% last year, and have fallen 23% in two years. The industry lost 11% of its newsroom jobs last year, and more than that at larger papers. By the end of 2009, a quarter of all the newsroom jobs that existed in 2001 will be gone.”.

“Certainly, the Web is an amazing reporting tool in the hands of almost anyone and has enabled all manner of efforts by bloggers and others to reveal stories. But some stories are beyond the database. Sometimes, people have to make the calls, hit the streets and walk past the conventional wisdom” – David Carr, The New York Times.