“You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model.

In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the newspapers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. … “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” … Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke. … It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem. … “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model. Read more…

Clay Shirky is one of my favourite academics, and he has been making a habit of explaining why the newspaper industry is even more zombified than the car manufacturing industry. His latest piece in this series, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable” is one of his best essays, I think - although my personal top favourite is still “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus.”

There will always be a need for people doing journalism, writing well-informed opinions, taking the right photos at the right time in the right place. But we don’t need other people to support us do these things any more. So as it gets harder to generate revenue from these activities, the people who support the activities and turn them into ‘work’ - which directly means, the organisations who support and employ the activity-participants - are collapsing in the vacuum.

The internet is changing the demand for “high quality content,” because it is changing the definition. “Sharable” and “modifiable” are now crucial parts of what make up “high quality,” and “HD quality broadcast footage” is facing stiff competition from “HD quality off-my-pocket-camera.”

The way to generate revenue is obvious, if you study the way the free software business community generates revenue :-)

(Via Sean Daly)


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