Content is King – if it’s profitable
January 27, 2009
Fascinating article in today’s Media Guardian from pundit Jeff Jarvis concerning a possible future for Journalism, amid the ongoing swathe of cutbacks and redundancies in newsroom across the UK and USA. One of the interesting points raised by Jarvis was the following:
“Journalism’s business and revenue, like its content, will become collaborative and networked. No one company will control news in a market any more; none can afford to.”
Jarvis discusses the not-inconsiderable number of redundancies in American newsrooms – more than fifteen and a half thousand over the last 12 months, as the pace of online news and bloggers inputs has outstripped the ability of print newspaper bosses in the States to attain consistent profitability in their commercial operations.
Part of this has been due to the simple fact that more and more consumers, audiences and former newspaper readers are sourcing news, features and opinions online than ever before. And this trend looks set to migrate with vigour to the UK. We are seeing it already, of course, to an extent.
But if the way audiences – and advertisers trying to gain their attention – are viewing journalism and sourcing news in this different way is growing pace, why is there a stumbling non-acceptance from the tradition newspaper business models to adapt more quickly, to respond positively and enhance their content offerings? The solution thusfar has been to cut costs and dump editorial staff on the street in an attempt to improve the bottom line. Or, at least, in the UK, there seems to have been consolidation in the extreme in this way.
I recall being made redundant by Northcliffe Newspaper Group years ago – from a decision made by the number-crunchers in London, rather than the management tier at the grassroots in the Bristol region, and wondering then – Why is it, at a time when my editorial Department is performing better than ever, hitting and beating targets, giving the marketing and advertising teams additional assistance in finding and keeping new revenue streams, do we find journalistic resources being cut here?
That question never got answered.
And, I fear, the same will be the case for the current Media staff being laid off. Well, they can blame the Recession of course.