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Print’s Death March, Again

Sep 22, 2011

Here we go again. Another article predicting the end of print media, or to be more precise, referring to its now sunset years. A recent post called Editorial Exit on the Future of Media blog, joins a chorus of naysayers predicting the end of the traditional newsroom and dismantling of old school media.

But are we talking about a sunset or merely a solar eclipse?

Without question the last five years (and even 10 years) have not been kind to a host of traditional media. Web 2.0 (or are we nearly 3.0?), running lightening fast, interactive sites and “iWeb” – the Internet’s mobile revolution – is enjoying double-digit percentage growth. Certainly, traditional media’s influence has shrunk from a global superpower to a component of an increasingly diverse set of communications outlets, including web sites, mobile apps, blogs, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages.

But referring to the present time period as traditional media’s sunset years is premature at best, and dead wrong at worst. In its annual report on American Journalism, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, highlights some quite positive news hinting that the worst of traditional media’s die off has ended. Newspapers, once a bulwark for the communications industry, saw its weekday circulation numbers contract by 5 percent in 2010. While not fantastic, the losses in 2009 were twice that. In revenue terms the picture looked even brighter at cable news, network television and local news outlets as all three saw growth.

The bottom line: Record stores still exist, vinyl can still be purchased, and the “paperless office” has yet to fully mature. Traditional media may no longer be king, but it’s still serving in the king’s court

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