The Flood Waters Are Rising For The Media

So this morning, during my internet perusing, I ran across this, Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacomm, making the bold prediction that the ink business, led by Rupert Murdoch, will be out of business in two years.  Following a rather lengthy diatribe about Murdoch, Redstone continued his description of print media as a dead man walking, then put this little gem out there:   “Ink is going to go away, and movies and television will be here forever, like me.”  Nothing like blind devotion to your job while ripping someone else’s.  I was going to argue that his prediction of print’s demise in two years was just wrong (I give it at least five, maybe ten if you’re a magazine), but then I got to reading about the Nashville floods.  You know, the answer to the question what would happen if there was a major national catastrophe and no one came?

Oddly, the national media largely ignored this event for several days, leading to a pretty significant outcry from people there who might be able to use a little help of the sort generated by massive media efforts in New Orleans, Haiti and various other natural disaster scourged places around the globe.  When Katrina hammered New Orleans, I readily lined up with those who criticized George W. Bush for the slow response to the obvious devastation.  Well, the media deserves just as much criticism for ignoring this story.

It apparently got so concerning that someone even started a Facebook page entitled “Hey National Media- Where are you while Nashville is flooding?” With all of the reading up on media I’ve done in the past year, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people in the business express the opinion that our media is of vital importance, that our entire democratic society would crumble without it.   In this day and age of almost instantaneous communication, how it’s even possible for the mainstream press to sleep on this story for a matter of days is beyond reasoning.  I mean, are they truly this out of touch?

You have guys talking out of one side of their face about how valuable the media is, justifying their continued existence now that their business model is suffering.  But when you get scooped by the Fugly Horse of the Day blog, I think that pretty much has to call into question the validity of your entire enterprise.  One of the people who posted on the Facebook page showed another problem the press has today, they just don’t have people’s attention like they used to.  “This flood destroyed much of the areas that were home to me for five years and I found out from Facebook instead of the news.”  And how exactly are paywalls, subscriptions and iPad aps supposed to fix this glaring hole in their plan?  It seems pretty clear to me at this point that the media seems to exist in a world outside of where people actually are.  Look at it this way, newspapers are for sale at the local convenience store.  What happens when a string of new stores opens on every other block in your neighborhood, but the newspapers only stay available in the one?  For an industry that relies on exposure for everything from single-copy sales to setting ad rates, this is very, very bad.

So I set out to argue against the premise that print only has two years of life left in it, and I think I may have come to agree with that.  Maybe Redstone isn’t as crazy as he seems after all.  Of course, his precious television hasn’t handled its business any better than the papers.  He may be right after all, just too limited in his scope.  The ink business, as he called it, is indeed in trouble, but television and possibly even movies, may not be far behind.  Just ask the market dominant recording labels.  Well, you could, if there were any left.

And to close, here’s another one.  If you haven’t heard, and you probably have because Wall Street took a nosedive on this news, so the mainstream media was all over it, unlike Nashville, The European Union just bailed out Greece to the tune of $145 billion.  Big deal, I say, we gave more to GM.  But, apparently, this could be the beginning of a possibly major financial meltdown in Europe, with Italy, Portugal and Spain all potentially lining up to be the next EU country saved from collapse.   Some have even suggested that this could signal the end for the Euro as currency.  This, of course, being the Euro that everyone had been dumping money into because the dollar looked weak not so long ago.

Anyway, here’s a roundup of the bailout that appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network website.  Why site the story on the CBN, you ask?  Well, the entire piece reads very gloom and doom for Europe, until the end, when the writer, almost gleefully, closes with this:  “Still, Europe’s misery will mean good things for the U.S economy: attracting more capital, strengthening the dollar, lowering interest rates and the price of oil.”  What a very Christian thing to say.  Sure, Europe’s heading to fiscal collapse way worse than our own, but at least we’ll benefit from it.


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