What Is the State of Media Today?

multimedia press release

The state of media today is a matter of opinion for some, though a recent report from Vocus shows a picture of ongoing decline. Particularly in the traditional media sector, the state of media is looking rather grim. The continued loss of jobs in television, radio and print media paints a dire picture of the evolution still required from the aging industries. Yet the online media sector is often looked at with gleaming hope, pushing the digital wave as a rescue mission for the established ways of media consumption.

The argument around traditional versus new media has been going on for a few years now–consumer demands are moving a great deal of activity to digital formats, giving options for instant gratification when it comes to when, where and how we enjoy our media content. The result is a startling continuation of what traditional media has anticipated for a while now. Vocus’ report shows a slowing industry that’s undergoing a major transition right now.

293 newspapers have folded in the past year, with nearly 100 of those being shut down in the first quarter of 2009. 600 staffers found themselves without a job across top publications. The radio industry found itself in an even tougher situation, with 10,000 jobs lost. Over 100 television stations across the U.S. went bankrupt, largely affected by their parent companies filing Chapter 11.

The domino affect this had had on the media industry has pushed a great deal more professionals into the online sector, with Internet-based publications taking the helm towards new ways of thinking. Those displaced employees of various publications and stations have found themselves shifting to a new industry all together or taking up the profession of blogging and similar jobs in order to remain in their familiar line of work.

Once considered a marginal aspect of the content creation wheel, some online publications are still increasing in readership. The ability to deliver news quickly to a large number of people has transformed social media into a broadcasting hub of communication. The necessity for traditional media to adopt the practices of online publications has helped to validate the industry overall.

What Vocus goes on to note is the organizational factors that have had to be accounted for with all the changes being made to traditional media sectors. With job cuts, remaining employees are finding themselves with additional tasks and little or no pay increases for their heavier work loads. This is a common trait for bloggers, which have had to wear multiple hats in order to succeed with their online publications.

This mimicked behavior further indicates that the traditional media sector will continue to have to take on the methods used by online media outlets for their future survival, even if that means applying these tactics to their traditional distribution and marketing channels.

Speaking of marketing, Vocus also notes the way in which the declining media industry has affected other related industries. The advertising industry has also had to change its tune, given the changes both traditional and new media sectors have witnessed in recent years. Google, which had launched multiple initiatives to revolutionize the ad-based monetization of television, radio and print media, has abandoned all but its television advertising project, with 2010 marking a necessary trial period for TV ads.

On the upside, new media is looking more promising than ever. While a poor economy has catalyzed the depressing state of traditional media for 2009, several industries were forced to cut budgets and find more creative ways in which to build their brands. Online advertising and marketing campaigns that were associated with social media have helped to create a continuous opportunity for the traditional media sector to explore the digital era, with successful campaigns bringing promise to online publications.

This still doesn’t product a one-size-fits-all solution for the media industry, traditional or otherwise. Vocus also notes the decline in online magazine success as well. While the reasons behind this particular drop are not identified in the Vocus report, it could be indicative of a still-settling industry that took too quickly to the promise of the web, e-book readers and other new trends.

The monetization of online publications, while more encouraging than that of the traditional media arena, still has a long way to go. The exploratory state of new media in particular is undergoing rapid changes as it tests new trends in marketing, delivery methods and direct communications with consumers.

In all, we’re still witnessing the merging of traditional and new media, which is a long process that has been taking place for years. Finding optimal ways of monetizing new media is something that will have to be ultimately justified by the corporate (often synonymous with traditional) aspects of the media industries, as these are the entities that are positioned to make new trends more profitable. Once this monetization occurs, we’ll be able to see more dedicated efforts towards developing an effective structure for media consumption for media new and old.

image credit: State of the Fourth Estate

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