Can media roll with these punches?
Everywhere I look media companies are changing their approach to how they do business. Either they are going willingly into the new era of internet and web dissemination by embracing the new hardware and software technologies of web 2.0 social networking, or they are being forced to by the changing times. Its clear they must do something if the are going to survive.
Most impacted are the newspapers that must compete with falling sales as more people get their news from the web, but the pressures are there for television as well. It seems like suddenly there are lots of shows available on-line from the major networks and sites like Hulu, mostly in response to the YouTube boom. The bottom line is, well, the bottom line- the changes in media have created a frustrating and so far fruitless search for a successful, i.e., profitable business model that could sustain a newspaper on-line, or keep readers coming back to magazines like U.S. News and World Report, Time, Newsweek, the Nation, the Economist, and others. Some papers have gone to on-line publication only, a local example being the Rake, and some have seen new ventures emerge as existing legacy publications like the Minneapolis Star Tribune reduces its staff drastically, leaving a hole in local news coverage that someone like MinnPost can hope to fill using several ex-Strib journalists.
All news outlets are faced with a radically different landscape in raising revenues to continue. Some of the larger, more established outlets may be having an easier time due to their savings, while others are expanding their already in place fund raising strategies that appeal to the public's purse strings. Two examples are U.S. News and World Report and National Public Radio. Both, have been in the process of re-evaluating their situations and making adjustments to their operations, essentially moving in a new direction but without entirely abandoning the old. The former is changing how often their print issues will be published, and both have done some restructuring of staff and organization to include web specific departments to respond with new services. At NPR they are calling it NPR "a reinvention (of) itself as a multi-platform source."
Along with these changes come the rise of citizen journalists using free and inexpensive tech tools for blogs, websites, self-produced videos and podcasts that provide an outlet for all kinds of expression of views and reporting. This raises questions about just what is a "journalist" anyway? What is the role of a journalist? More on that elsewhere in this blog.