If you’ve been following the media industry over the past year, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you the waves of disruption continue to increase in both height and frequency — so the news that widespread cutbacks have caused dissatisfied readers to flee won’t come as much of a surprise. But while those waves have swamped some traditional players, other parts of the industry have been able to ride the tide, and non-traditional sources continue to play a growing role in how people get their news — although whether that is good or bad is still open for debate.
All of that and more is contained in the latest State of the Media report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which was released on Monday morning (Note: We will be discussing many of these issues and more at our paidContent conference in New York on April 17). There’s a lot to take in, but here are what I believe to be some of the key takeaways:
As with any overview of the media business, there will be those who see this picture as a glass half-empty, and those who see it as a glass half-full — and perhaps a growing number who have completely lost interest in the glass because they are already getting their water elsewhere. As Emily Bell of Columbia and her fellow authors Clay Shirky and Chris Anderson pointed out in their recent report on “Post-Industrial Journalism” and author Clay Christensen noted in a recent interview at Harvard, upheaval is the order of the day in the media business and will likely be so for some time.
Shirky said in an essay in 2011 that we as a society actually need the media business to be chaotic, as unpleasant as that may be, because we literally don’t have any idea what the future of the industry will look like. Even now there are new entities being born, and new models being applied — like the Forbes “BrandVoice” model, or Sullivan’s direct-to-readers model — that could either be the savior of the industry or a dangerous distraction. If you like bumpy rides with an uncertain ending, the media industry is definitely the place for you.
Post and thumbnail image courtesy of Shutterstock / Scorpp
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