Monday, April 13, 2009


The print business is on the list of endangered species—forced to rest their souls in the name moving towards the digital age. As most industries, the fate of journalism faces the challenge of stepping up their game upon entering a new era that only promises a future to the survival of the fittest. Last month, national publications such as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune had to file for bankruptcy as their advertising revenues had taken a significant decline, which has forced owner, The Tribune Company to stop the press. Since January of 2008, an accumulation of about 120 local papers have become extinct.

As the original version of our freedom of speech comes to a steep upheaval triggered by the recent disappearing act of advertising, essentially it was brought on by the trickle down effect of our less than booming economy, in actuality however, it is also inasmuch as our need to participate in the race of digitizing as many products as possible, thereby in the process resulting into training consumers, (us) to look for information purely in digitized form.

This is why most papers and magazines have jumped on the bandwagon, having two versions of basically the same product (USA Today, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New York Times are all available on line for free at a click of a button). None of these publications can afford to lose any readership. Readership generates advertising, and some advertisers refuse to keep investing in print ads, which goes uncalculated vis a vis when they can put their money into websites that can tell them exactly how many daily hits their ad has seen. Magazines such as Domino, Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, Cargo, O Home, Men's Vogue, Teen People, Travel and Leisure Family, and Blueprint have all had to prematurely cut off their life support due to unsustainable funding when competing with the new model. It's like suddenly there is a new structure that is shiny and new, and the initial reaction is to play with it, but in fact no one has figured out just yet how anything works. As a result, print publications are getting buried along the way of the transformation. Dailies and monthlies are being forced to shut down because owners can no longer compete with free on-line content. But, and this is a big BUT, on-line ad revenues are still adding up to be much lower for the owners than what they are for print, and in turn, writers are getting paid a lot less than how much they would get paid on print for the same exact quality of work.

And to add to the mix, now in the middle of this misguided conversion, is no other than, you guest it Google. At a time when print media staggers to keep up with the internet glitz with its on-line features such as videos, slide shows, the interactive world of leaving comments, and of course let's not forget the joy of emailing articles to multiple people at once, it becomes apparent that old media is trying to compete with an entirely different beast. Just last week Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who began his courtship with the dailies, told the Times that he would like to be partners with newspapers who've taken their spots online by “building significant advertising resources.” This may all be well and good, or perhaps not, actually no one knows. At this stage, the age of new media remains unforeseen since our society as a whole hasn’t finished defining its full potential. Therefore, we cannot strike judgment on the result as of yet, all we know for now is that our papers and magazines are emerging into a dying breed, and if the alternative for writers is to publish on line while continuing to deliver the same exact goods for virtually half the pay, then the publications and the advertisers do need to partner up. Both parties should and foremost rather than reconfiguring the most effective formula to generate revenues, figure out how they can pay their writers for the same quality of work. Otherwise, I would not be surprised if journalists came together again to start a strike for being abused, misused, and as usual underpaid for at their best, providing some much needed checks and balances. What then will happen to both print and new media? Imagine that, a world without writers...hmmm

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