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If Traditional Media Is Dead, Now What?

newspaper_stress1It’s happened again.  Another failed attempt to reformulate a dysfunctional communication model has been rejected by readers, commuters and, well, basically everyone on the planet.

Back in January, I found an interesting fact on journalism.org that illustrated dramatic declines in readership of traditional newspapers, magazines, as well as viewers and listeners of Television and Radio.

My answer for the declines in readership, viewers, and listeners: Blogs, baby. Blogs! (of course I went into more detail than that…)

But one story eeked out a glimmer of hope for this “old fart.” It was The Printed Blog.

On January 27th Joshua Karp (Twitter: @theprintedblog) launched a twice-daily free PRINT newspaper in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City. The content he published was solely from BLOG content!

This was a venture that I’d invested a tentative faith into – something that just might start the traditional media ship to turn… nope.

On July 7th, Mr. Karp published a letter on The Printed Blog stating,

Despite a significant personal investment on my part, and the additional support of six or seven credit cards, we were unable to raise the minimum amount of money required to reach the next stage of our development. This was a difficult decision for us, but the financial reality of the situation demanded that we suspend further publication immediately, and indefinitely.

Read the full post here.

… AND ALL IN SIX MONTHS? Wow AND Ouch…

What went wrong? Were there ever benefits to having blog content republished in print in the first place?  With the ease of access to social media channels, via G3 networks and wireless expansion, did Mr. Karp continue to move forward with his model? Or was his grip to traditional print simply a mistake?

When asked “What would you do different…” by Nicholas Kinports, over at Admaven, Karp’s myopic response summed up his trouble quite clearly.

I would launch exactly the same business, but I would focus like a laser on one neighborhood, … I’d make a local … edition successful, and prove that I could generate revenue to cover my costs. Then, I’d expand, slowly …, until I was putting them under windshield wipers of cars in the Google parking lot.

And the crux to his failed plan…

The only, reluctant tweak to the concept I wish I had included was a social network. … I was wrong. That’s a component that was missing from my plan.

Certainly was…  He didn’t strategically target and plan for exponential growth…   and didn’t plan that his target as well as his source was constantly moving…

But you have to give Karp credit for his attempt to marry traditional media with an ever-changing, ever-expanding monster like blogs and social media.  I’m sure it was something like lassoing a hydra.

What do we take from this?

Can traditional media survive?

I live in a pretty “traditional midwestern city.”  Des Moines, Iowa is feeling the pinch from the online world and making GREAT strides with converting traditional channels to emerging media outlets, but sometimes, I fear, not fast enough.

The news sources I grew up on are dwindling faster than my hair line; and even my parents (in their mid 60’s) have canceled their subscription to our only daily print newspaper in lieu of “newer” media and news-on-demand sources.  I haven’t listened to anything but satellite or streaming radio for over three months.  My kids have NO idea what the nightly news is, nor do they seem to care.  Wikipedia and their MySpace accounts keep them as informed as teen and pre-teenagers need to be (they think).

So where do we go from here? How can traditional media like print newspapers, magazines and radio survive the change?  Do you have a solution?  Should we just watch it die, or is there a light at the end of this tunnel? (don’t go into the light, Carol Ann!)

Food for thought.

Until Next time…

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

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