Tag Archives: Droid

Is Print Journalism Dead?

Is print journalism dead? I got the question overnight in email from a student working on a research paper. He’d seen this post on this blog about that. He asked me to answer these three questions.  So these are his questions with my answers. 

1.) What are the factors that have led to falling sales?

Start with cost: Print media have the cost of paper and the cost of physical distribution. Online media don’t. Is the print version worth the difference to the customer? To the advertiser? For now, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Over the long term the increased acceptance of digital media makes the cost difference more important. 

Add convenience: I believe digital is inherently more convenient. My iPad, my Kindle, and my iPhone are more convenient because I have all the media in one small package. That’s also true for a lot of droid users. That’s not true for everybody, of course. Some people prefer paper. I know that. But I believe the relative convenience of digital will win over time.  That’s my opinion. 

2.) How can newspapers in particular re-position themselves in the digital media market to halt the decline in circulation?

Newspapers need to be available on the major operating systems of phones and tablets. 

Enhance the value for readers and advertisers. Add search and social media and comments and links to take advantage of digital in ways that printed newspapers can’t. 

Do the reporting that citizen journalists and opinion-based bloggers and social media don’t. Do the investigative reporting. Cover the town hall and local issues. Stay objective, reliably, and trustworthy. 

3.) Is the trend terminal and, if so, does it matter?

No, of course it’s not terminal. Nothing is ever absolute. Some newspapers and magazines will survive for a long time. The long tail will be there. But over time the survivors will be fewer, more narrow, and less important. 

So that’s my opinion.

And I don’t consider myself an authority on this. I’m not a researcher. Look at the thorough research being done by the major Journalism grad schools (Columbia, University of Missouri, University of Oregon, Stanford, many others) for a lot more info.

But I do have an opinion; and it is informed by nine years as a mainstream Journalist, 30 years as a magazine columnist on occasion, and seven years as a professional blogger. And I’ve got a master’s degree in Journalism. And I enjoy sharing opinions. For more on that, check out the Journalism category on this blog. 

Will Your Business Sink in a Technology Ocean?

Geology is fascinating. If only we could speed up time, we could see mountains rising and being eroded into peaks and valleys, oceans ebbing and flowing, continents breaking up and moving around. Earthquakes. Volcanoes. Glaciers. Landscape in action. Great spectacle. Or it would be, if we could speed up time.

How about continental drift? Speed up time. If you click the image here to the right you’ll go through 650 million years in 1 minute 20 seconds.  Watch the continents pull apart. It’s a fun animation.

And technology is just like continental drift, but roughly 25, 50, 100, maybe a million times faster. And accelerating.

For example, mobile technologies. And what if the big blob there on the right were labeled “iPhone,” and other blobs labeled “Android,” “Windows Mobile,” and so on?  That’s a changing technology landscape. And in that case, the splitting of the continents represents maybe a year or two. Right? Call it two years, and that would make it 325 million times faster than continental drift.

The pace of technology’s changing landscapes is speeding up. The technological continental drift in personal computer operating systems common for business use took maybe 10 or 12 years to go through the cycle from CP/M in 1980-1982 or so, followed by the MS-DOS world (we called it PC Compatible), with Mac and then Windows, lately Linux and friends. Or maybe that was 25 years?

We all have to choose platforms. I’ve seen it from a software developer standpoint since 1984, so 26 years now. Then there’s hardware manufacturing, consulting and expertise, and also just plain using the technology. Do you use Windows or Mac or Linus? iPhone or Android or Treo or Blackberry? You’re making choices.

Make the wrong choice and you end up like my polar bear friend here to the left (with apologies for changing the simile abruptly from continental drift to ice sheets breaking up, but it does sort of show it, doesn’t it?) You’re on a shrinking platform. Of course the polar bear can swim long distances. Users can jump platforms, but it costs time and money. Developers and manufacturers can jump platforms too, but it costs more time, and more money.

I’ve seen a lot of businesses rise and fall to the ebb and flow of these technology platforms.

This is tough, but important, strategy management. Businesses get stranded on shrinking platforms all the time. Businesses went down with the ship of CP/M, Apple II, MS-DOS, SONY Betamax, HD vs Blue-Ray… it’s happening all the time. Yahoo Instant Messenger vs. Microsoft Messenger vs. whatever-they-called-it-on-AOL and so on.

Where are you in social media? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Buzz, somewhere else?

Ideally you want to jump to the next continent in time to ride with it as it grows. But damn, it’s hard to guess right all the time. You’ve seen what happens. You’ve seen some businesses try to mitigate the risk by developing into multiple platforms, then lose focus and fall apart. You’ve seen businesses stick to dwindling platforms and eventually fade away.

What are you doing about this?

(Image credit: Jan Martin Will/Shutterstock)

Shock and Awe Reminder

Sometimes you have to step back and just plain enjoy the wonder of it. For me, shortly after my 62nd birthday, it’s been amazing, wondrous, and so much fun. Every so often I have to pause and reflect. The computers, the phones, the media options … it’s all amazing.

Most of you have grown up assuming cell phones, transportable video, and computers are everywhere. Can you imagine that when I was growing up we had three channels on the television, in black and white? We were already in our thirties before we had videotapes so we could watch movies at home. To see a specific TV show we had to plan our evenings and be ready at the television when it started. And we all watched the commercials together.

It seems like you have to be almost my age to be able to remember when we used typewriters and Wite-Out regularly.

In college we had to write papers on the typewriter. More than once I rigged the sentences to replace a page in the middle of the paper so it would start in context with the page before it, and then end in context with the page that followed, while the rest of the page itself changed.

In my first real job, as a wire service correspondent in Mexico, we’d have multiple typewriters on wheels. When a new story came in, we could leave the story we were working on in place in one typewriter, and then start the new story with another typewriter. And to change paragraph placement, we literally cut and pasted; with scissors cutting the paper, and real paste, to paste it back together. That happened all the time.

I think my favorite part of all this is remembering back in the early 1980s, as personal computers started to spread. We had the Apple II, the IBM PC, Radio Shack, and others. I was in Creative Strategies, doing market research for high-tech clients including IBM and Apple. We were paid to sit around and imagine what might come in the 1990s and beyond. We got good money for it. And we had no idea. We were so far off, it’s fun to try to think back to how low the horizons of our visions were.

Oh, and there’s this: in the middle 1980s I traveled a lot in Latin America, doing market research and planning consulting for computer companies, carrying the 34-pound original Compaq computer. And as bad as that sounds, it was a huge step forward. Later,  in early 1991, I traveled back and forth to Japan about once a month, using the first Macintosh Powerbook: monochrome only, it weighed eight pounds if I remember correctly. But there too, it was another huge step forward.

The capabilities of the iPhone, the Droid, the netbook? Absolutely amazing. The first computer I worked on, a 1979 AM-Jacquard minicomputer, cost about $129,000. It occupied a room of its own, took up the space of a walk-in freezer, and had a huge disc drive system involving 10-pound metal platters that each had capacity of 5 megabytes. And that was huge. It was hard to imagine using that much storage space up, ever. My iPhone has 64,000 times more storage space.

I could go on all day with comparisons like that. I love new technology. I love gadgets. I love the Web and social media. And it helps me enjoy it all when I remember how far we’ve come. It’s all amazing.