Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mass Media Can Flourish

The mass media is alive and well, certain institutions will adapt, others will fail. The Wall Street Journal has increased its circulation. While the New York Times has decreased circulation, total subscription revenue is up thanks to price increases that have more than made up for the loss in subscribers. It seems the successful newspapers are moving away from the ad based revenue model to a subscription model where ads are secondary to the income generated from selling the paper itself. It sucks that the NYT and WSJ are now $2 at news stands in California, but it makes sense that they should charge a price people are willing to pay and that covers their operating costs.

Blogs are popular because they provide analysis of news. Reporting news is no longer as valuable as it was, people now want in-depth coverage and analysis beyond the usual of X did Y. Certain neglected news, local news, is still valuable and small newspapers have to focus on reporting stories that pertain to their local communities and are relevant. More investigative coverage is needed, we still want newspapers and organizations to dig up corruption and shady deals, or expose ridiculous waste. For example it was reported recently that it cost the new California agency that deals with pollution (forgot the name, the Air Quality board or something like that) $6000 to build each and every cubicle for their workers. $6000 is excessive for a single cubicle, the head of the board said the costs included telephone equipment and installation, but $6000 is still excessive for a phone, computer, chair, desk, and cubicle partitions.

In other words, certain organizations will continue to flourish. The Economist Magazine, for example, reported record levels of subscription, even as Time and Newsweek die off. Time had been increasingly dumbing down its coverage and spending too many pages on pop coverage of celebrities and so forth. I like the Economist because it reports on news all around the World, from Africa to Asia, every issue has stories from every populated continent allowing the reader to keep up with events around the world rather than just in the US. Newspapers and magazines should take note and follow along, US based media sources are too focused on domestic events and should be informing readers of what is going on in the rest of the world. It's a small world these days.

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