news + paper = TV … newspaper + TV ≠ Internet

Hey all you viewers out there in TV land, listen up.

Did anyone catch that I’ve addressed listeners and viewers, but not readers?

Fair enough.

In an August study, the Pew Center found that only 42 percent of Americans view their TV set as a necessity.  That’s a 10 point drop from last year, and a 22 point deficit from 2006 numbers.

Statistics are even worse with the 18-29 age demographic: 33 percent.  Note to TV manufacturers: we’re your next generation of customers.

Uh oh.

NYU Professor Clay Shirky wrote a related blog post about this topic.

“Some video still has to be complex to be valuable, but the logic of the old media ecosystem, where video had to be complex simply to be video, is broken.”

FastCompany magazine picked up on the trend too in September’s issue, highlighting companies who are ramping up production for online-only content.  And it’s legitimate, yes-I’ll-add-the-sunroof-package content.

To the television execs: see the above note to TV manufacturers and cc the distributors.

Allow the TV folks to soak up those facts, and let’s turn to newspapers.

Another Shirky piece outlined the downfall of the newspaper industry.  It shows the arrogance and ignorance of the whole daily print news empire.  Newspaper people saw the Internet coming and turned a collective blind eye.

A great point in the article is that the Internet has solved – to a workable, yet continually increasing extent – “the core problem publishing solves.”  Bringing content to the public cheaply and effectively has essentially, and on many platforms, been addressed by the Internet.

It may be the most basic, fundamental value the Internet can offer.

Shirky has also pointed out the lack of viable newspaper revenue models.  He contends that small, iTunes-esque payments won’t work.  His best point is that music can be repeated, and news can’t be copyrighted.

You probably would enjoy listening to “Journey’s Greatest Hits,” a few times a week for the next 20 years.  Or not.

I wouldn’t mind listening to “Awake My Soul,” by Mumford & Sons, every day for the rest of my life.  I read yesterday’s Missourian article on Hurricane Katrina evacuees residing in Columbia.  I won’t read it again.

Newspaper execs: invite your TV friends to dinner.

Here’s the full-circle kicker.

A January 2010 study by the Pew Center investigated the state of media in Baltimore over the course of one week.  It found that newspapers still drive the majority of stories in other forms of transmission, especially television.

The math: news + paper = TV; TV < necessity; online news > newspapers.

In Shirky’s post on the newspaper industry, he examines the general news aspect.

Yes, there will probably always be a market for general news: the NBC’s and Good Morning Americas. What is scary about our media tailoring itself to the consumers, to us?  Shirky argues that many models will fail.  He’s correct.  So what?

Let ideas fail, then try new methods. It’s called innovation, and our country is particularly good at it.  For a consumer, a purchase occurs when a value exceeds cost.  Journalism has to find a way to accomplish that and accommodate news forms of media.  Dropping colorful ink boxes of paid advertising onto thin sheets of tree-pulp isn’t working anymore.

Maybe there will be only a handful of major publishers in regional centers that rely on locally-based reporters to upload content to a web publication and print hard copies only on the weekends.  Who knows?  It is exciting.

The results of the Baltimore study showed social media as “an alert system and a way to disseminate stories from other places.”  It only speaks to the role of social media now.  Will we see a continued progression to where these media do the news breaking and full reporting, while the newspapers become the reprints of stories captured digitally?

Anytime, anywhere, anyone” might be a little exaggerated, but it’s closer to reality than the current infrastructure.

Let’s end with another Shirky-ism: “‘You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!’ has never been much of a business model.”

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