Old Media Isn’t So Old Anymore

Old media might not be feeling as old as the pyramids anymore.

Is old media making a comeback?

In fact, is it fair to even refer to traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines as “old” anymore.  They have infused their online properties with interactive and multimedia elements and syndicate their content on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

For example, the New York Times and CNN are among the top 30 of Twitter accounts with the largest number of followers (and among the top 3 that aren’t celebrities).

Let’s be clear.  The glory days of the daily newspaper and the weekly news magazine are over.  The print industry has run its course and is slowly becoming a niche industry.  Circulation at all major newspapers and magazines has plummeted and won’t recover now that news can be read instantly on a Kindle or an iPhone app.  The days of the paperboy tossing the local fish wrapper onto your front porch will soon be nothing more than a memory.

But that doesn’t mean traditional media is going away.  They have and are evolving after years of being in denial.  They have reduced headcount, streamlined operations and invested in the newest and latest technologies.  They have come to realize that “print” was simply a channel – not their product.  That news – and delivery of that news in an entertaining and informative way – is the product and it needs to be delivered electronically – be it on YouTube or on a mobile device.

There are still many challenges ahead for traditional media, but they have a lot of advantages that the new media amateurs don’t have:

1. Trust

Trust might be at an all-time low for traditional media outlets, but when a big story breaks most people still turn to the media companies they know for accurate news.  If you want to be sure of the facts are you going to trust the Associated Press or the Huffington Post first?

2. Networks

Traditional media outlets are connected.  They have the best sources, they remain the go-to place for PR agencies, companies and organizations to help spread the word about news, products, services and events.  New media is catching up but most companies would rather see a feature story on their CEO in the Wall Street Journal than on GigaOm.

3. Built-in Consistency

Creating new content every day or every few days is difficult work.  Bloggers, especially solo practitioners, often run out of steam (or go on vacation!). Many blogging operations have struggled to provide this consistency and have adopted old media models to make it happen.  As of yet, corporations aren’t designed to provide a steady stream of new content with any consistency.  However, old media has the processes and the staffing model to provide content for the insatiable appetites of the Web.

4. Money

While old media has seen plummeting circulation rates and declining ad revenues, they still have deeper pockets than most blogging operations – some of whom are funding by venture capital and have business models just as weak as old media companies.

What do you think? Will traditional media make a comeback?  Have they become the new “new” media?


Digital Tonto’s post “5 Reasons Why Traditional Media is Making a Comeback”

Nieman Journalism Lab’s post about traditional media profits

What Newspapers Do Great

Photo by Anthony Kelly (via Flickr)

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  1. Is traditional media making a comeback? « Fırat Tüzünkan - January 3, 2011

    […] I also found this article by George F. Snell III on the same issue. Interesting […]

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