Economics and change in news I — Financial pressures on news

Economics and change in news I — Financial pressures on news

: At this week’s Harvard conference on journalism, citizens’ media, and credibilty, I’m emceeing, Oprahlike, a session on economic pressures on news and the issues that result. The official word from the conference is “ethics” but I’m not convinced that’s quite the right word. Here are some notes in preparation. This first post wants to be a catalogue of the economic pressures on the news business brought on by the internet, citizens’ media, issues of credibility, and more. I don’t plan to discuss this much, but I thought it was important to start with this background and perspective. As I said to someone about their company lately, “You need a chief reality officer.” This is an attempt to issue an economic reality check. Please add in more factors — or correct the ones I have here — in the comments. The second part of these notes, on the strategic and ethical issues all this raises — is the next post, above.

Strategic issues

: Thanks to the internet – and the consumer control and choice it enables – the mass market is dying, replaced by a mass of niches. See The Massless Mediain this month’s Atlantic (it’s not online; I’ll post quotes soon). See my First Law of Media: Give the people control of media, they will use it. The corollary: Don’t give the people control of media, and you will lose.

: All established news media face strong new competition for audience, attention, and ad dollars from the internet, cable, satellite radio and TV, and games.

: All established news media face growing competition for stories and attention from new sources of news, led by citizens’ media. These new competitors can serve niche markets large media cannot serve.

: The value of controlling distribution – printing presses, broadcast towers, cables – is torn apart by the internet. The internet is the network no one owns.

: Thus