|April 17, 2008|
|Newspapers Are Poised For The 'Golden Age' Of Information|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|What turns print readers off the most? Is it the steady flow of stories about the “death” of newspapers, or is the media’s constant navel gazing? |
Even the biggest fan of newspapers has his eyes glaze over when faced with yet another story about the rotten future facing papers. That’s why a Forbes sidebar to a story about WPP Group boss Martin “Kiss and Punch” Sorrell is so refreshing. The piece is called “Hope for Hacks?”
Forbes writer Richard Morais agrees these are distressing times for journalists. That said, he believes journalism is poised for a comeback. Morais likens the current Internet-driven media turmoil to Gutenberg’s printing press tossing thousands of manuscript-copying monks out of work throughout Europe. Many journos are yesteryear's monks.
Owners of the first printing presses were showered with money and honored by kings, princes and popes, just like Bill Gates.
“But by the late 1500s, after the technical breakthroughs had leveled out, the wizards of the printing age faded into insignificance.”
Wealth then shifted to content providers, who are the “I” part of the IT equation. That’s where today’s journalists come into play.
Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of WPP’s GroupM, a media management entity, notes editorial budgets at newspapers have fallen at least 25 percent because papers are delivering news that is eight hours old. And readers are “getting it.” [This blogger first read the Forbes story online last week. The printed magazine arrived at O'Dwyer's world headquarters yesterday.]
Digital media, in Gotlieb's view, is at the “cusp of phase two.” Internet-targeted search companies have already sucked all the advertising out of “traditional media.” It is now time for “old-line publishers and broadcasters” to “significantly redefine themselves for the digital age and win back what was lost.”
Storytellers are about to find themselves in a “Golden Age,” according to another WPP exec, Brian Fetherstonhaugh, who sees a crying need for high-quality content to fill all the new Internet channels.
It’s time for newspapers to stop griping about how tough things are. Newspapers are yesterday's news. It's time for newspapers to get to work on re-inventing themselves for the paperless "halcyon days" that lie just ahead for the information business.
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