Death of News Media Announced (Please Send Flowers)

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

To add to the gathering clouds, Brian linked to this neatly-argued augury of DOOM (as did everybody else, as half an hour in my feed reader proved):

The unthinkable scenario unfolded something like this: The ability to
share content wouldn’t shrink, it would grow. Walled gardens would
prove unpopular. Digital advertising would reduce inefficiencies, and
therefore profits. Dislike of micropayments would prevent widespread
use. People would resist being educated to act against their own
desires. Old habits of advertisers and readers would not transfer

Mr Shirky, it would appear, it not one to nudge and wink, or imply anything. No. He just goes ahead and says it, after a little voyage through some rhetoric on the way:

And so it is today. When someone demands to know how we are going to
replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are
not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old
systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding
to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core
institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information
will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are
demanding to be lied to.

OK. I admit it. I’ve had my tongue in my cheek through the writing of this post. But, as those of you who know me well can attest, I’m usually at my most serious when I’m making jokes. This is serious, serious stuff, and must-read material for anyone working in journalism today who would like to be doing something like what they’re doing today in a decade’s time.

We are not in a period of evolution. We are in a period of revolution. And one of the worst financial crises in living memory is just going to hasten that change.

Read. Understand. And start thinking big.

Aaaaaaanyway, what’s this?

When reality is labelled
unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry. Leadership
becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest
that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into
Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse.

Well, obviously Editorial Development, where I work, isn’t an Innovation Department. Obviously.

Is it?

Update: Only one thing would make this more scary. A major newspaper closing its print edition. Ooops.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.