Why the media will be fine, in four easy steps

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1) Everyone loves news.

They love consuming it, they love making it. People will pay close to $40,000 just to get a masters degree in it, an investment that will subsequently earn them about the same wage as a unionized garbage worker. Maybe less! So really, it’s not like there’s disinterest here, as is the case with other important stuff like math and science.

2) A big reason that news outlets aren’t making enough money online is that there is an oversupply of advertising real estate.

Just think about it: print readership is declining, but not as fast as online readership is increasing. Net result: People are consuming more media than ever!

Meanwhile, ad buyers, who are not known for being the sharpest tacks in the media box, are slow to adapt to new kinds of content. Just ask anyone trying to make money on online video! Worse yet, as audiences fracture, the job of ad buyers — and the companies they represent — becomes more challenging: it’s just about 10 times as hard to do ten $10,000 ad buys as it is to do one $100,000 ad buy.

3) A media die-off will make ad space more valuable

Advertising, after all, is a market, governed by supply and demand. Ad-supported media exists at the whim of companies that need to reach consumers. As media outlets die off, the remaining ad inventory becomes more valuable. Perhaps even to the point that online ads reach parity with their print counterparts — or more than parity, if you recognize that web ads are measured so much better than print ads that a million views does not equal a million subscriptions (on account of all those subscriptions that go straight into the trash).

Ask any young turk with a facility at creating media for the web — right now there is plenty of work out there, especially when you consider what a shite economy we’re having. Which can mean only one thing…

4) What we’re experiencing right now is not the death of media but massive turnover in the media job market.

Is there a net shrinkage as captive markets that used to rely on local newspapers to deliver national news, movie reviews, stock prices etc. suddenly find themselves able to get the same thing directly from Google? Yes… and that’s even in consideration of the fact that some of those jobs are going to people no one would consider journalists, but who answer the same need, like the coders who built and maintain Google News.

But the death of the media? No, that’s silly. Merely a significant transformation.

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