This link came to me thanks to Charles Arthur. It's an amazing blog that charts job cuts in US newspapers. It's looking like carnage out there: US media houses are reporting drops in their profits anywhere from 47 to 87%.
US newspaper advertising, local and national both, dropped by over 7% in 2007, together with smaller drops in specialist magazines, radio and a number of TV categories. The biggest rise in advertising volumes was the Internet, a growth of almost 19%.
UK newspaper sales have dived over 11% over the past four years on average, with year on year drops to April 2008 as high as 10 and 12%, as people move to the Internet for their news, views and conversations.
At the same time, many journalists are also using the 'new tools', including blogs. A survey by Pleon's US partner, Brodeur, showed that over 50% of journalists spent an hour a day reading blogs. Almost 50% of them blog themselves - and 4 out of 5 US journalists believe that blogs have made reporting more diverse. 65% of US media regularly read blogs that cover their area of reporting. We're even seeing a re-birth of media interest in, and reporting of, blogging in the UAE, although I honestly think this article today that quotes a certain devilishly attractive cove could, and should, have gone a lot further.
It's probably no coincidence that the biggest recent influx of journalists from 'more sophisticated' world markets recently to the UAE was to Abu Dhabi's The National - and that there are something like 20 blogs coming out of that team right now, including a 'team blog'. In other words, blogging is part of life for journalists from other parts of the world - online habits are ingrained in them that are perhaps lacking in our regional media - but that's changing fast.
If you doubt that change, read this (courtesy Gianni)...
What on earth am I getting at? Well, there's a movement going on here. As consumers' eyeballs are moving online, the money's following them. And media houses are being dragged along behind the money, trying to find new revenue streams that will replace the advertising and copy sales revenue of the 'conventional' media model. It does remind me of the struggles of circuit-switch mentality telecom operators trying to deny the existence of the virtually free of charge Internet telephony. And the typesetters I used to work with who didn't believe that desktop publishing would replace professional compositors. And the people at travel agent Thompsons who lost their jobs to people like me who book holidays on the Internet. And on and on and on.
The list is, of course, of people being disintermediated by the Internet. And media in key world markets are facing that self same pressure right now. To misquote Larry Ellison, "It's online business or out of business". The problem is that online revenue streams aren't acting like conventional revenue streams - and there's a shortfall in revenue that's behaving conventionally.
This, therefore, would seem to be a time to behave unconventionally...