Just in the last few months, we've seen countless radio divisions, newspapers, and television groups either shut down, do massive layoffs, declare bankruptcies. or merge with other entities just to stay afloat. I feel that blaming it on the economy is a moot point and simply an excuse for these entities. The real reason many of these media outlets are gone?: The Internet.
Many of the above media outlets simply refused to latch onto the internet to make their products better and instead chose to stick to their strict definitions of information distribution. I've had a first hand view of this. When I first started working in media at an AM station when I was 19, things were way different than they are now and things have changed even more drastically in the TV business. Television is a funny business. I feel we overvalue ourselves as the one media that people turn to at all times and many groups rode that ship down to the bottom of the ocean. Newspapers wanted to charge for online content, radio groups didn't want their blocks of stations broadcast on the internet, and many television outlets refused to integrate the web into their newscasts and programs till it was far too late.
Viewers, readers, and listeners are a fickle group. They want their information now, not in the morning, or at a specific time like 6pm or 11pm. The typical television viewer now watches most programs either via Tivo or just catches up online. Radio listeners have grown tired of the amount of commercials and have turned to online music sites like Slacker, Pandora, or even ITunes. Newspaper readers have now turned to RSS feeds so they can view several sites in a short time without turning one page of the paper or looking at the local eyeglass manufacturer's buy one get one free ad. Newspaper readers have even turned online to sites like Craigslist to buy and sell items, leaving the classifieds of the local newspaper in the dust. The newspaper industry tried to combat all of this by charging for articles, or making the user register to view articles, but all of these ideas failed because consumers just went elsewhere to get the information.
A quick look at the above examples shows one thing, the internet provides the "instant gratification" that consumers want. We want everything and we want it now and thanks to the internet, we're getting it. It wouldn't surprise me in the future, to see only a handful of newspapers in major cities, less and less television stations, and fewer radio stations as well. I've seen the TV business change and adapt to new technology since my career began in TV in 1995, but I'm not sure it can weather this latest blitz. It will truly surprise me if I have a job in TV much longer, and that's fine. I'll move on to something new and exciting technology wise. I bet ya never thought that Darwin's Survival of the Fittest would apply to modern media huh? Well it has, and it will continue as well.