Sunday, 6 May 2012

Deeper media issues than the symptoms present

There are a lot of problems with media in general today whether you’re looking at it from the perspective of the downward spiral of print media, the shift to digital challenges, the decline in the quality of journalism in general, the lack of sustainable revenue models online, the list goes on.  

But at the end of the day these problems are all just symptoms, much like a fever is a symptom of a bigger problem.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that tends to have knee jerk reactions to symptoms and our first course of action is almost always to treat the symptom first – we take Tylenol or a cold and flu remedy to deal with the fever and runny nose before we ask the question “Why do I have a fever?”  But if you treat the fever for too long without addressing the real problem, the real problem will continue to worsen and in extreme cases can even turn fatal.

The current state of media is no different.  Print media came down with a fever and industry leaders around the globe immediately jumped in as healers to treat the symptom, but no one ever really managed to get to the core of the problem.  Unfortunately, treating a symptom will almost always provide a false sense of security, or well-being, as some improvement will take place.  However, the core problem is still festering below the masked symptoms and as things worsen the finger pointing starts. Executives get blamed for complacency and a lack of action being the cause of the provided remedies not working. Management gets blamed for remedies not producing sufficient results. The industry as a whole gets blamed and criticized when setbacks occur.   

But pointing the finger at executives or management over the current state of print media is like blaming a family physician when known medicines don’t work on a new and unknown epidemic.  It’s not to say that they are blameless, but it is to say that they are not likely to have the remedy or even necessarily know how to find the remedy.  The thing they are most guilty of is not finding the right questions to ask and the right people to ask.  But when all is said and done, placing blame in any direction isn’t productive and won’t solve anything. The important thing now is for everyone involved to be open minded enough to accept the real problem and embrace the solution.

One of the symptoms for the print media ailment is the movement of readers and advertisers from print to digital, causing a decline in revenues, so leaders pushed for print to transition to digital – mostly using the same techniques that were used in print.  But since losing readers and advertisers to digital was only a symptom, the techniques of treating that symptom have been superficial in their results, leaving the core problem unchecked.  Because of this, additional symptoms have developed to the point that everyone is now scrambling to deal with an onslaught of symptoms while underneath it all the core problem is slowly turning the situation fatal.  

The real unfortunate part is that the core problem isn’t actually as difficult or complex or challenging as one would assume and could have been a relatively easy fix – but that type of assessment rarely becomes apparent until hindsight sets in.  Furthermore, by taking this symptom treating approach we have ended up creating a secondary infection.

I know the question that burns at your mind is "So what is the core problem and the secondary infection?"  You may actually already know the answer and are merely curious whether or not I in-fact know it.  Well as much as that may be the case, I'm afraid I'm not quite ready to take that level of detail public - not yet. 

We need to align with some Investors and associate partners first - but I assure you, something big is coming - hopefully sooner rather later!

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