Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Is journalism thriving or dying?

Posted on | March 8, 2012 | No Comments

Newspaper revenue has collapsed (see chart). No surprise. Employment is down only slightly in the past few decades. Surprise.

That’s because organizations (or journalists themselves) are doing more with less, as Steve Myers points out on Poynter. Tools continue to evolve rapidly to give journalists more ammunition to create startups and compete with entrenched media organizations, many of whom are amazingly (still) reluctant to jump in the river and swim. (I see something like the San Francisco Chronicle’s iPad app and just scratch my head: How can you be located in the middle of app development ground zero and not have America’s most powerful newspaper app?)

But back to Myers’ piece: We initially wring our hands over these trends (especially the undeniable revenue collapse), yet recall that 20 years ago we were wringing our hands over the “decline of reading and the American newspaper.” Yet revenues for newspapers were soaring and other publications we springing up like daisies in the weekly, bimonthly and monthly segments, and in the trade press.

I suppose it would be ideal if the people ranks were thinned in tandem with the revenue collapse, which would mean that editorial supply and demand remained in balance, but that’s not the case. And since everyone’s a publisher, it makes the challenge all that much more daunting.

We see that in our own sand box in the electronics B:B segment. We’ve undergone a massive shakeout in the past 10 years. In fact we did the editorial resizing/right-sizing thing before anyone else in the industry because our world (semiconductors and electronics OEMs) moves so much faster than anyone else (for good and ill).

Publications fell by the wayside, and, at times, it seemed like editors were falling as if they were on a field at Antietam. But most of those (most, not all) are still plying their trade in some form. Some doing the same thing for a different (often startup) publication; some doing similar things in a different media sector; some doing good work in the emerging corporate-publisher space.

That’s heartening news. For the mainstream media, the pain level today is where our industry was 5-7 years ago. It’s not pleasant, but people and industries learn to adapt.

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