Thursday, August 5, 2010

Newsweek and the Media Landscape

This week Newsweek magazine was sold to a 91 year old stereo magnate. The sale price is said to be $1. The sale of the iconic magazine is an interesting reflection of the strange media landscape we’re in today.

I grew up with Newsweek. It was always on the coffee table in our home and I was a regular reader. When I went off to college I got my own subscription. For a number of years, Newsweek was a central conduit to my sense of what was going on in the world.

These days I’ve a voracious blog and on-line news reader. We still have a subscription and I still read it. But Newsweek is but one news source among many. I approved when Newsweek transitioned away from a summary of the week’s events format and went with more long form investigation and analysis. But I can see why the magazine would be struggling to hold onto advertisers and subscribers. It’s not dead. It is on life support.

Why pay for a print magazine when there is an abundance of free news at our fingertips? Why wait a week for news analysis when there’s a perpetual stream on the internet, and river of information there for the drinking?

The economic problems of the print news business is not surprising. As I think of my media consumption habits I see similar trends everywhere. I get my news and analysis on the internet. I spend my days streaming great, free, advertisement-free, internet radio. My books come from the public library. Movies arrive via Netflix. Games are downloaded at deep discount from Steam or for a dollar in the iTunes app store.

My life is spent saturated in media, but I don’t see many advertisements, and don’t pay much money for any of it. The old business models are crumbling. What is going to replace them? It’s going to get harder and harder to make money as a media producer.

It’s a great time to be to a consumer. I have more access to media of all kinds than ever before. There’s no shortage in sight. There are more great music, movies, books, news, and games than ever. An embarrassment of media riches is everywhere and there for the consuming.

I just don’t see how anyone is making money off it.

1 comment:

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