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Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.


Jeffrey Dvorkin

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Too Much Content Chasing Too Few Eyeballs


The numbers keep going up.

The latest numbers as tabulated by the US Department of Commerce show that for newspapers alone, more than 15,000 print employees have lost their jobs in 2008.
Most of the those cuts happened after the economic crisis began to unfold in September of that year.

In Canada, the number for both print and broadcast is 1200 as some major media organizations go through a restructuring (aka, firings) to try to save their companies with their immense debt burdens of around 9:1 debt to revenue ratios.

One other big difference is that media is much more centralized in Canada, so cutting positions means that the quality of journalism, especially local and investigative journalism has been really eviscerated.

What is it about modern journalism that people don't want - at least enough of to sustain the enterprise? The problem is with the enterprise itself, not the product (although the product has some serious deficits). It's that debt-to-revenue problem. There just aren't enough paying customers to support everything that the media is producing in print, on air and online which is now growing at an annual rate of 30% according to the World Association of Newspapers.

Too much content chasing too few eyeballs.

The premier of Ontario (a Liberal) asked a couple of experts from the University of Toronto including the urban futurologist Richard Florida to come up with ways that the province should take advantage of the economic crisis and evolve.

They suggested that Ontario abandon the idea of being an agricultural and industrial producer and concentrate on creating services, not goods. It should create intellectual capital in the universities and the cities and forget about hewing wood and drawing water.

Sounds good to me, but I'm biased...

That vision of the future may auger well for media organizations - even those that have over extended themselves. One website claims there are now about 40,000 resumes floating around out there.

But can media organizations restructure themselves in time?

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