Media Changes and The Writer

The other day, a copy of the new Yellow Pages and phone directory was delivered to our house.  As I picked it up off the front step, I was reminded it has been years since I even looked at one.

The recycling container has it now.

I suppose I will regret tossing it if I lose internet access for a long time, or if I need to level a wobbly table, but the fact a Yellow Pages edition is still produced is an interesting example of an old communications medium hanging on for its last few breaths.

Not too many years ago, a small business, which didn’t advertise in the Yellow Pages, was considered out of touch and destined to fail. Today, the standard is a website and social media.

All media is in a constant state of change and the changes are happening more rapidly as time goes on.

A few years ago, the total advertising revenue at Google surpassed the advertising revenue of the entire newspaper industry in the United States. The newspaper industry, which was once one of the most powerful forces in our society, was bypassed by one company.

Newspapers are now a shadow of their former selves.

Here are some items to consider and reflections, which can be helpful in deciding how to view media of the future:

  • Newspaper use and revenues are in significant decline. Mergers create a few super-newspapers, but smaller papers will continue to decline and disappear.
  • Younger people will not read newspapers to any significant extent and the clock is ticking on the industry as its readership dies off, literally.
  • Online news and social media are the newspapers of the future.
  • Newspapers will disappear while still having a good number of subscribers, just not enough to sustain the operation. A bankrupt newspaper might have 100,000 subscribers, but if it needs 120,000 to achieve financial breakeven and advertisers are spending money elsewhere the writing is on the wall.
  • Print magazine readership and revenues are generally in decline, but are holding on longer because each has a specific niche and purpose. They have a future but it is a constant evolving future. Online components of the print edition are very important.
  • eBook sales have flattened over the last few years. eBooks have not been around long enough to make any permanent judgments about their future. The technology is less than ten years old. Predictions about eBooks replacing print editions were made too quickly. No one has any idea what eBooks will be five years from now.
  • A significant majority of eBooks are read on devices other than dedicated eBook readers.
  • Social media in one form or another is here to stay. It is the way people communicate worldwide.
  • There will be something new in social media, which will revolutionize the category. I don’t know what it is, but technological advances usually leapfrog over existing things. Nothing stays #1 for long.
  • The Internet is the most important thing for all media. It is the highway on which everything runs.
  • Our experience with media in the United States gives no insight into global media trends. We are neither the leader or follower. We are the exception to what the rest of the world is experiencing.
  • Smart phones are the global media device of the present and future.

In a fast changing world, we tend to rush to judgment on whether something is truly a long-term trend, which we must adjust to or a fad we watch with amusement for a time until it fades away. The Internet is just over 20 years old and it runs everything. I can’t imagine what will be happening in another 20 years.

For creators of content, you authors and writers, be acutely aware of how media morphs and changes because media is the receptacle for your work.  Watch the trends, adjust and create inspired material for whatever media container is best for your message.

Everything does not need a book.

Some things should be articles or blogs.

Some things should be free.

Some things should not be free.

Shorter content is not always better.

Longer content is not always better.

Write for the container and the consumer.

But first, study the containers and how they constantly change.

And don’t be disappointed when your favorite newspaper or Yellow Pages are only available online. The end is near for them.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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