Tipping point… or melting point?

Tipping point… or melting point?

: Just got the Wilson Quarterly with its cover story on “The Collapse of Big Media.” Getaloada the intro:

Collapse is not too strong a word to describe what has happened to America’s major news media. Stripped of their old economic and technological advantages, befuddled by the changing character of their audiences, and beset by new competitors, they are reeling from the blows recent scandals have dealt to their credibility and presige. Their old authority is one, and with it, perhaps their ability to define for Americans a shared realm of information, ideas and debate.”

Youch. That pretty much summarizes the melting point.

: Stats from WQ compliled from many sources:

* Daily newspaper circ from 1990 to 2003: 62.3 to 55.2 million

* Number of daily U.S. papers from 1990 to 2003: 1,611 to 1,456

* By age group, percentage of Americans who read a paper yesterday: 18-29 – 23, 30-49 – 39, 50-64 – 52, 60+ – 60

* Time spent by 8-19 year olds on all media: 6 hours, 21 minutes; time spent on print media: 43 minutes

* Combined viewership of network evening news: 1980 – 52 million, 2004 – 28.8 million

* Median age of network news viewer: 60

* Percentage of people who believe all or most of what’s on: network news – 24, CNN – 32, FoxNews – 25, C-Span – 27, PBS NewsHour – 23

: See also Chris Anderson’s many stats on the media meltdown here.

* Music: sales last year were down 21% from their peak in 1999

* Television: network TV’s audience share has fallen by a third since 1985

* Radio: listenership is at a 27-year low

* Newspapers: circulation peaked in 1987, and the decline is accelerating

* Magazines: total circulation peaked in 2000 and is now back to 1994 levels (but a few premier titles are bucking the trend!)

* Books: sales growth is lagging the economy as whole

: See tipping-point posts here, here, and here. And much media here.

: And from PaidContent, see links to the Deloitte report on the not-so-bright future of network TV and Mary Meeker’s powerpoint on the ad challenges. See this amazing chart from Meeker’s presentation. Compare the ad dollars spent per household in each medium and guess where this is going:


And see this on classifieds in papers vs. eBay (and this doesn’t include CraigsList!):


  • Adapt or get out of the way.
    Adapting to the left has proven counter-productive for the media.

  • Who’s doing the math? Long before a couple of bloggers were feeding us bs, journalists, advertisers, experts and politicians were doing a mighty fine job of feeding us innumerative bs. According to a recent survey conducted by Jay Leno with the “Jaywalkers” from this yearís “Top Jaywalking Thinkers”, they found that 51% of people make shit up, 105% are afraid to look dumb, 67% try too hard to impress others, and 39% belive that 41% of bloggers have hemorrhoids from sitting on their asses. Read more…

  • Millions more people watched Dan Rather at his lowest than watched Jon Stewart at his buzziest. A mid-sized newspaper like The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY, would be the sixth largest blog in the world. That is, more people are willing to pay for what they get once a day from the traditional newspaper than want what they get for free any time they want it from some of the most popular blogs.
    This should not make traditional media complacent. It only shows how much they have to lose. When the tipping point comes, they’ll tip. But so far, there’s too much juice still on the old side and not enough yet on the new side to make the big move. Everyone wants to invent something people will stand in line to actually pay for, that turns wannabe-free, sometimes illegally downloaded content into a paid subscription, In other words, everyone’s looking for an iPod.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Time spent by 8-19 year olds on all media: 6 hours, 21 minutes; time spent on print media: 43 minutes
    I’m kind of surprised that print media gets THAT much time with this age group. Are they counting comic books in that total? You know, those really groovy Japanese comic books with the girls with the big eyes and cat ears and tails? Man, those are great!
    I mean, can you imagine a girl with a tail? How freaking cool would that be! Think about it, you’re out on a date and you run into some of your friends, and you ask the girl to show them her tail…and SHE DOES IT! It gives the phrase “getting a piece of tail” a whole new meaning, huh?
    Another cool thing about those Japanese comic books are the names of them. I think I’d write one and call the girl Princess Go-go Boots. God, that sounds so cool! Maybe if it sold enough to all the salarymen in Tokyo they’d do a cartoon!
    Princess Go-go Boots fights the Ninja Men from Planet Tentacle! Aw, man, this thing would practically write itself!
    Anyway, now that I think about it, 43 minutes doesn’t really seem like enough time to really get into Princess Go-go Boots. I’ll have to hire a marketing firm to get the kids to read more.
    I’ve always been a champion of literacy.

  • although the numbers look alarming, the circulation of the average daily paper declined by only 760 (less than 2%) in the period cited by jeff (using the numbers jeff cited.)

  • Peter

    I love it! Can we genuinely say that the era of Broadcast Media driven public opinion are over? Mark it on your calendar, and rememberÖyou were there!
    What year will be identified as the pinnacle of broadcast mediaís reign over public opinion? The Clinton Era – í92, í94 or perhaps the end of the Vietnam Era, say 1973 or í75? The Reagan era only revealed the weaknesses inherent in the beast and with resolute finality the last election marked the death of broadcast mediaís influence. Now rather than attempting to resuscitate the beast we have only to step back a few paces and just observe its death throws, trying to prevent any further harm that it may cause as it twists and writhes in pain!

  • Alan

    The only time in the past two years I have heard the voice of Rather, Jenning or the Broker are my afternoon visits to the nursing home in which and 86 year old relative lives. Truth…

  • Mark