A handful of recent media industry reports inject a small but noticeable degree of optimism into their examinations of the current business landscape.
Lauren Rich Fine of Kent State University tells the The Economist that adaptation could guide certain types of newspapers through the industry’s rough transition:
Ms Fine also points out that although all newspapers are being buffeted by the internet, their ability to respond will probably depend on whether their audiences are national, metropolitan or local. The first category can afford to invest in distinctive international or business coverage, while the last can prosper by becoming “more intensely local”. But she fears for the big metropolitan newspapers, which may find themselves trapped in the middle.
Fine’s analysis doesn’t benefit medium-sized papers, but the prospect of success at large and small papers is a shift from typical declarations of “all” newspapers dying.
On the broadcast side, NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman says TV shows will need to exist on multiple platforms to succeed, and variations across formats have to be distinct. From TVWeek:
“Around our new offerings there will literally be shows that end on air and the last scene will continue online,” Silverman said at the recent TelevisionWeek Upfront Summit.
Rather than feebly slapping Band-Aids on the established system, Silverman’s comments suggest an acceptance — and an embrace — of the industry’s position. This is a perspective shared by Wired editor Chris Anderson, who, in a recent talk, said the media industry needs to examine the current environment and then find ways to add value. From Journalism.co.uk:
“… we need to do something that the internet has not either not already done or done too well, that may be original reporting, maybe it’s investigative reporting. Maybe it’s long form narrative; maybe it’s the packaging of stories with photography and diagrams … That’s basically our mission, I think, to figure out where the market failure is in the amateur internet and there in lies the commercial opportunity for us to do something that still has value and which people will pay for, either directly or in terms of their attention, which can be monetised through advertising.
On first glance it would seem that newspapers and broadcasters are in a different digital realm than book publishers, but as we’ve seen time and again, a development in one part of the media landscape often pops up elsewhere. There’s also much to be said for a positive outlook in an uncertain environment.