Seth Godin says that today, media is free, but attention is not. The closing of Conde Nast’s 2-year old monthly business magazine, Portfolio, proves his point. Portfolio was a lush, expensive paen to an era of big advertising budgets from big corporations spent on mass audiences. This era has been ending since the the technological innovation of web, Google and targeted advertising fused with a quick-quick, multiple tasking, attention-challenged culture of Gen Y. Maybe a decade ago?
The Great Recession and the decline of entire industries that once had those fat ad budgets—finance, cars, technology, travel—accelerated the shift away from big magazines, newspapers and mass media in general. Ads for magazines are down by 25% this year and 46% for Porfolio itself so far in 2009.
As a journalist, editor, writer, I personally have made the transition from Voice of Authority of the Business Week editorial page in print to Curator of Conversations on innovation and design on Business Week online. I believe that an economic model will evolve for “print” journalism that works, probably in combination with the online medium. That “print” journalism—investigative stories, meaningful stories, insightful stories, engaging stories—may well be done on Kindle-type electronic players without the expense of print. And it could be joined to the collaborative, interactive, video-centric, emotional, short-burst wire-service journalism online.
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