Why news media is dying and blogs are thriving

rip news mediaA couple of months ago, I sat through a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon that was supposed to be all about the impact of social media on businesses.

What it turned out to be instead, was a big fat whinge about how radio, TV and newspapers are hanging on by a thin thread. And then we hear in the news that Fairfax (major newspaper corporation) is switching it’s focus to an online subscription model.

Ummm, has anybody thought of the obvious, that perhaps newspapers are going the way of ghost towns? We have a shiny new highway and don’t really need news media anymore. We have Youtube after all!

Seriously though, let’s just think about this for a minute.

Why do we need the news media? The news media’s raison d’être was supposedly to be mediators, to tell the truth, to be unbiased and to be an independent voice that keeps government and society accountable.

The problem is, newspapers and news programs don’t do any of these things, not anymore (did they ever?). Most journos just want a quick, easy story to get in by deadline. People like me make that easy for them by supplying press releases and news tips.

Perhaps you think me cynical, but I’ve been working with the news media for many years now and have been interviewed on many occasions for radio, TV, and newspapers. Often, when I read the articles or watch the programs again I can’t help but wonder what parallel universe the journos slipped into during our conversations.

And don’t even get me started on current affairs shows.

“Could you say that again and just look really sad when you say it?” has actually been said to me during an interview. One time I did a live news cross and the questions given to me ahead of time were nothing like the questions levelled at me during the interview. I just stuck to the same answers anyway, so all was good! (Have you ever noticed that politicians are adept at the art of ignoring the question to get their point across).

Also, have you ever noticed that magazine articles on a particular topic are accompanied by a flurry of advertisements on that same topic? Coincidence? Nope! Advertising is what drives business for news corporations. Magazines won’t run stories they feel won’t have advertiser support.

Now, it’s not all bad, because being featured in the news can be pretty cool for your business. The general population still views news as authoritative and trustworthy, so, if you want to win some brownie points with potential customers it’s nice to be able to use the press to build your “know, like, trust” factor.

Be the source.

But now that major newspapers are moving towards subscription models, I wonder how relevant they will be. I mean, I get more out of blogs and Youtube than I ever would out of a newspaper report and if I want to read about some groundbreaking research, I go straight to the source.

The truth of it is this: Newspapers and news programs are dying! They simply cannot compete with blogs and Youtube. The power has shifted from the mediators to the sources.

So, if you want to stay ahead of the game, my parting phrase to you is: “Be the source.”