It's time for traditional media companies to stop whining and face the fact that far too many of them, lulled by a lack of competition and years of pre-tax profits of 20 per cent or more, put cash flow above journalism and badly misread the web when it arrived on the scene. The focus was on consolidation, cost-cutting, and pleasing Wall Street – not modernisation and pleasing their readers.
They were asleep at the wheel, missed the writing on the wall, let the train leave the station, let the ship sail – pick your metaphor – and quickly found themselves on the wrong side of the disruptive innovation the internet and new media represent. And now they want to call timeout, ask for a do-over, start changing the rules, lobby the government to bail them out, and attack the new media for being... well, new. And different. And transformational. Suddenly it's all about thievery and parasites and intestines.
Get real, you guys. The world has changed. Did you know that newspaper circulation is down 7 million over the last 25 years while unique readership of online news is up 34 million in the last 5 years? Did you know newspaper advertising fell nearly 19 per cent this year while web advertising is up 9 per cent and mobile advertising is up 18 per cent? Did you know that more video was uploaded to YouTube in the last 2 months than if ABC, CBS, and NBC had been airing all-new content every minute of every day since 1948?
And did you know that we have access to more than one trillion web pages, 100,000 iPhone apps, and send more text messages a day than there are people on the planet? And Rupert Murdoch still thinks aggregators are the problem?
We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. And some things are better while some things, for the moment, are worse in terms of upheaval and especially the painful loss of jobs. But this is unarguably a Brave New Media World. And there is no use living in digital denial. The information superhighway is a busy thoroughfare and there's going to be some road kill along the way. But only among those who insist on merging into traffic riding a horse and buggy.
Taken from a speech by the editor of The Huffington Post at a conference sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission in Washington yesterday