Bing Blog

Dead media? Not so fast, Bud.

Dead Duck

Has it ever occurred to you that everything you read on the Internet about the future of the media is written by people who are writing on the internet about the future of the media? They say that history is written by the winners. Sometimes it's rewritten by the winners. And at this point it's quite possible it's being prewritten by guys who have way too much skin in the game.

Likewise, has it ever occurred to you that a lot of what you read about the death of newspapers is written by people who were recently fired from their jobs at newspapers? Does this seem fair to you?

I flew with this friend of mine the other day. He's a big Internet nabob. He certainly knows what's going on in that space, and I bow to his wisdom on just about any related subject. But without too much prompting he declared that magazines were dead. That caught me up short. Then I thought, hold on a minute. I'm sure he believes what he's saying... but he's in direct competition with a bunch of magazines that are trying to hold up their own piece of their sector... and most of his staff used to work in magazines and now, you know, didn't anymore.

So I thought, okay, magazines are in pretty tough shape all right. But dead? You go to an airport and all you see is magazines. Even the books look like magazines. There are at least seven separate magazines still interested in Jon and Kate. A bunch more seem to be about boats and cameras and computers and sex. I generally buy one about cars. Dead? Magazines? Who says so? The Internet.

I'm going to keep on believing in most of what I read, of course. Except for one specific area: I'm not interested in anybody who says anything that I like is dead. Liquor. Meat. Books, magazines and newspapers. Personal computers that do not depend upon the cloud. I'm not going to consider anything dead until I'm no longer interested in it, and I'm going to watch out for emotional conflicts of interest on the whole subject.

34 Comments Add Comment

It is kind of like being put on a conviction buy list.

Could it be that those with the new found conviction are long that security?

Skin in the game, indeed!

First we had 'slant', then we got 'spin', after that came 'FUD' (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).

Now it seems folks who have causes to advocate have gotten comfortable with outright lying.

They think any cause they oppose deserves an active 'disinformation' offensive. Their wingnuts need to have an abundance of wild, completely phony nightmare scenarios to quote and spread.

Not that said advocates want that garbage traceable back to THEM! They don't want to damage their own credibility (such as it is).

Fortunately, maintaining their 'plausible deniability' isn't hard. All they need to do is feed the bilge into their backchannels, and there will be plenty of alarmist nutcases eager to parrot it and trumpet it.

The current healthcare 'debate' is the prime example. But don't be surprised if you see the strategy copied wherever and whenever it can be used to advantage.

I don't believe your friend intended to spread disinformation. Most likely he believed every word he said. But you're right to be on your guard against 'facts' spouted by those with an axe to grind. Now more than ever!

BINGO; that's one of the major problems with the web-based "media" is that it a very insular, incestuous community. If you're a blogger and you only read-and-write blogs or view other internet news feeds, it's easy to delude yourself that the world does the same and conclude "insert-print-media is dead".

If magazines or newspaper are dead, then why am I subscribing to magazines and newspapers? I'll tell you why; because they're still an incredibly effective and useful media IMO, and apparently in the opinion of others too (just not those immersed in the internet media).

Now, do I think that print media isn't facing competition or declining readership? No way. But not close to dead yet either.

I hope you're right. I love magazines. The newsstands in LA are fantastic. They take up large chunks of city blocks. However--and it's a big however--many magazines are depressingly thin. No ads. How long can they continue like this?

Just got my September Vogue and can't wait to
browse through the pages-ads and all. Can't do that online plus I hardly notice online ads. I can't imagine paper going completely away. Now if they could do an e-reader to mimic turning pages in a glossy magazine, well that would be another story!

Bravo! Well said.

Printed material will be around for a long time,,,,there are still thousands of trees just waiting to become toilet paper in the soft fluffy form or the newspaper form..

Magazines,,,they have the centerfold advantage,,,,of course I always buy them for the articles...not the pictures....

Newspapers are required for some people,,,,they just won't believe anything until you cut out the article and show it to them in printed form,,,,then it somehow becomes "the truth" now matter how dumb it is...

Books,,,they are good,,,can't level off a table leg with an can with a book..

On an off the topic note...81 banks failed and counting...more interesting than that,,,,the chinese just bought 2 billion dollars of toxic assets through "PPIP",,,seems they think assets are better to hold than dollars,,,,my advice to my American friends is,,,hold on to your property if you can,,,cause if the foreigners start dumping US currency,,,inflation will let you pay off your debts,,,,but prices on property will skyrocket...faster than you can save it...

Inflation ..That would spell relief for the 48 % of homeowners who now owe more than their property is worth...the only catch need a job to keep pace with inflation...

Too much to think about for a monday....

I suppose it depends on what you refer to as a "magazine."

The hard-copy stuff printed on paper that accumulates on the shelf under my coffee table, or the content itself? I subscribe to a lot of magazines, but I actually read more of the on-line versions that come with my subscription.

The hardcopy is useful for flying, or taking out to a lawn chair, but I find myself reading the hardcopy versions less and less.

There will still be a place for reporters, writers, and editors. There's more information available than ever, and a much higher percentage of it is complete crap.

"Trusted" news sources are more useful now than they were before the Internet, which is full of idiot bloggers typing random crap while eating lunch, like I'm doing now.

My kid is 10 now. For years he experienced unmitigated joy every time his monthly issue of Your Big Backyard arrived in the mailbox. At bedtime we would read them cover to cover, many times. He saved them in a stack in his closet.

He has a Compaq Presario 900 laptop now and has outgrown YBB, but he did sell the stack of back issues at our garage sale last weekend, to a young mom who was thrilled to find them.

Bing - I like your attitude about the premature death pronouncement of these things.

Then again, you could just be in denial.

I agree that you should question the source of any pronouncements on the death of a media form.

But is there evidence of the long-term viability of magazines other than your airport experience? Because that's a highly skewed example. Of course magazines are popular in airports, where flyers are looking to purchase reading material in the absence of online alternatives. I'm sure if you visited a subway station in New York, you'd feel similarly confident about newspapers.

The real question is whether such opportunities to capture audiences will continue to exist. Right now, print media can thrive in airports and subway stations because internet connections are spotty, if not unavailable, on airplanes and underground trains. But once wi-fi becomes standard on flights, will magazines sell so well in airports?

Printed media circulated through traditional means cannot be declared dead, because it still finds its way into peoples lives.

The new version of the printed media is anemic and down right anorexic.

Coupons seem to drive the demand for circulated print, after all, if one uses enough coupons the print might be considered free.

Rewards delivered with the print seem to be the hook to promote circulation more than search of information.

Nostalgia just isn't enough to drive circulation, people look to be rewarded with value.

Interesting that I am reading this this a paradox wrapped in a conudrum or what?

I am still of two minds about this.

Like Bing I think there'll be more staying power for many premium organs of traditional media, if more in brand power than the specific medium they use (for ML wanting a e-reader to flip through glossy Vogue ads, we're probably less than a year away). And I agree with Bing's main point about conflicts of interest of those who write about the demise of old media even when their daily bread depends on new media.

But then I read something like the Sir Harold Evans book review in yesterday's New York Times Sunday Book Review. The main point, I think, was that Internet news (which he labeled as "barbarians at the gate") only does Twitter news - what's happening right now? and only in short bursts. Well didn't I just read Sir Harold's review on the Internet??? I felt like flinging my insert against the wall - but then again, there was no insert, which is again the point.

It was the sort of smug self-satisfaction that has nearly decapitated traditional media through its thickheadedness. Old media may survive, but it doesn't mean there won't be a lot more bleeding before this battle is done.


I hate to break it to you, but the meat you eat is actually dead...unless you are a zombie, than you may have a chance of getting live meat.

Also, I think companies should give up trying to apply advertising models to the web. Unless you have content that is unique such as financial/economic reports. For the most part news, tv and radio should be in one or the other space but not both...

But could it be that print is dead for some?

Perhaps the majority has not yet embraced the all-powerful intarwebz for their information, but those that have are immersed (and probably will not revert back to strict TV-watching, magazine-reading lifestyles without difficulty).

If the internet is a game changer for some people, and it stands to reason that it has transformed the lives of its evangelists (if no one else), then the real question is whether those affected can be identified.

It does not require much imagination to envision television and print publications of the future focusing on narrower audiences (the kind immune to the internet phenomenon) while 'net addicts become increasingly dependent upon 24/7 digital information overload.

Just read a research brief that shows newspapers are still the leading advertising medium, used by consumers for planning, shopping and purchase decisions...What's dead again?

Generalizing about an entire medium being dead or thriving misses the point. Newspapers are in trouble not because people no longer enjoy reading them, but because their main source of cash (classified ads) moved to the web 10 years ago. Magazines do not have the same dependence on back of the book revenue as newspapers did. Magazines in certain categories are under pressure (newsweekliles for example) because the news cycle for the detailed reporting Time and Newsweek provided as shrunk. The WSJ puts out quality news everyday and their circulation is growing. Companies have to come to terms with trading analog dollars for digital nickels.

I'm a former magazine guy, and I just concluded a brief stay in the newspaper biz.

I introduced myself to the entire staff at a meeting where I proclaimed to them that the print medium is 'dead'. Stick a fork in it. I went on further to attribute the comment, and not surprisingly, it was offered by me when I was running a digital business.

The reality, I explained, is that marketers do not expand their marketing/advertising budgets to accomodate new mediums. They just don't. Instead, they steal from other planned expenditures. The easiest path for digital to gain ad dollars?....uh,huh: print.

I offer to you that as long as the written word printed on the page of a book, magazine or newspaper stands as evidence of the presence of intelligent life forms, there will be a print medium.

When TV came out in the '50s, everyone said RADIO IS DEAD. So much for predicting the future.

When TV came out in the '50s, everyone said RADIO IS DEAD.
There are now hundreds more radio stations than there were in the '50s (maybe thousands?. So much for predictions of the demise of one media in favor of another.
Yes The Green Hornet is gone, programming changes, but the media remains.

Hm, I still go to record stores out of love, but you'd be hard-pressed to argue that the music industry doesn't have at least one foot in death's door. I can't name one scrappy indie label from ten years ago that is more than a shingle on a door now, and even the majors, withered and frail, are gasping for air.

I'm not getting this info from digital downloading pundits but from the few folks I still know on the inside.
So I admire your spunk, but sheer determination to avoid the information at hand isn't going to rescue printed media.

Hel-looooo, do we ever doubt the source???? There are many people that tout the internet as being our future for news and entertainment, and while it has definitely shaped a new way of information acquisition it will NEVER replace magazines. The magazine format provides an experience that cannot be duplicated. Internet IS very good at quick sound bites of news or research.

If you want insight or erudite discussion, you go to magazines and newspapers. Educated people will likely NEVER give up print.'s usually MEN who say magazines are dead. Women don't use the internet for fun or's research or tactical. Women will always favor magazine formats for a more personal experience--something they can quietly experience, as well as pick up and put down as their busy lives demand.

Print media dead? Only if they don't change.

Newsweek just completely changed their approach to reporting the news. There's now much more focus on analysis and informed commentary and much virtually nothing on celebrities and other fluff. They are adding value with content I don't find elsewhere and they leave out stuff I never wanted to read in the first place. The result is a much more compelling magazine that I now read virtually cover to cover.

You can go on forever if you can keep reinventing yourself!

Print media is obviously not dead but it is suffering a slow death. Major magazine companies are losing hundreds of millions a year and newspaper are going bankrupt (Tribune). The mere fact that we are discussing the death should be a red flag. The magazine industry is catching up to the losses of newspapers. The growing trend of print media getting smaller will continue until it's nothing but a suplement to on-line. I have been in the newspaper and magazine business for 10+ years and can confidently predict most newspapers in thier printed form will be out of business in 5 years. One of the many reasons are classifieds advertising. Newspapers lost billons of dollars to on-line that will never be made up. Cars, Houses, Employment, Relationships...who looks at a printed newspaper to find a house or a car anymore? Magazines and Newspapers may never die but the printed word with it's continue loss of audience and revenue will become less influential and able to produce and attrcat great editorial.

U-Haul may prove to be the last company safe from web incursion.

Those of us who like a good cigar with a good read are generally invited to enjoy both outdoors, where the sun's glare mercifully blots out odious blog reader salutations like, "I hate to break it to you."

A car magazine, the Times, a Macanudo, and for a few hours, all seems right with the world.

I believe Tracey is correct in saying that it's mostly men (for now anyway)that say print is dead.

For special interest items the internet is a long way from dominating much of anything. News is another story....picking up a news magazine or a newspaper, is a pathetically lame means of keeping up on current affairs. No matter how they date the printed page it's roadkill by the time it's on the newstands or delivered to your door.

I'm not saying that either medium provides a particularly useful or accurate message. Having been personally knowledgeable of more than a few items that were covered extensively by both internet based and print news sources, it's quite apparent that most journalists simply disinterestedly crap out the kind of minimalist material that will make its way past some overstressed and inattentive editor. There's no particular reason I should believe that anything I read is of much credibility.

I think most men just tend to be more interested in news, and in sports coverage (which provides fodder for its own special brand of inane colonic fiber for a brain-dead readership).

Perhaps men simply like to think they know what's going on in the world, while women tend to inherently fathom that print information worth paying attention to is that which might conceivably be important to their personal lives (such as child and husband-rearing, divorce attorney selection, diet, recipes, handling dick-head coworkers, friendships, and human relationships)....the only real things we deal with 'day to day'. The news, regardless of source, is how we men feed our 'male answer syndrome' addiction.

Finally, had internet blogging been available to the monkish scribes that once dominated the pre-Gutenberg print media world, I suspect they would have been writing why goat blood/sheep skin calligraphy will never die (it's got that whole tactile and scent thing going for it, and you can eat it during periods of famine). Paper print media is not dead, but it is inevitably destined for the trash heap (and some quaint print museums). It's environmentally unsustainable and inefficient. When the boomers pass it's toast. Enjoy it as your grandfather once enjoyed his spats, buggywhips, and telegraph messages.

Print is dead for some. But the Internet is for many on this planet a "never has been". It's all about perspective. A good article

Work for Newsweek, Jerry? It's still loaded with crap. The August 24th (& combined August 31st issue!) is a study in crap. 'In Search of Aliens'...and '24 Other Surprising Things You Need to Know Now'. A long article about Brad Pitt's new movie. Sh*t loads of ads pitching the latest designer drugs to nag your doctor for? It's hilarious.

To be fair, I didn't see a single George Will article, which is a distinct format improvement.

I love magazines and always have about 5 or more subscriptions. Newspapers might become obsolete, but I think magazines still provide something invaluable for a big chunk of the populace.

I like this topic

any musicians out there? Remember back in the 80's when everyone thought electronic drums and bass would do away with real live bass players and drummers? Well, it had a bit of an impact but didn't completely replace live players. I tend to think that's what's going to happen with magazines. There will always be a market for niche magazines (newspapers might be a different story) for a certain percentage of people who enjoy reading and turning pages while turning in for bed or like, in the bathroom!

I found it interesting recently when I heard a radio spot promoting Bing. Here's an internet based business utilizing traditional ad medium to drive folks to their website. If the internet is the total answer to everyone's marketing needs, why didn't they utilize the internet to do this? I feel that print and other traditional forms of advertising will continue to be a part of a companies' marketing mixes--serving as a vehicle to drive readers to websites.

Radio will continue to do relatively well. Its production costs are low, compared to television, the radio market in any given town is not split into a zillion different channels, and its easy to change formats (and there just aren't that many radio formats). For radio stations linked to a local television channel it's the television portion of the operation that's dragging their net revenue down.