The positive side of the economic collapse for media

By Steve Outing

This morning I posted a few words to my Twitter account about PC Magazine’s decision to cease print publication…

My Twitter posts also get fed automatically to my Facebook account, where Tom Regan, a smart and talented journalist and media thinker I know, posted what I thought was a profound comment:

“I have a feeling that with the (Christian Science) Monitor and now PC Mag going in the online direction, it’s just the start of a tsunami over the next two years. The current economic situation, more than any other factor, will accomplish what a decade worth of net evangelism has failed to do.”

He’s so right. All the Editor & Publisher columns I’ve written over the years, all the blog posts, etc. perhaps pushed the needle a bit over the years. All the words and speeches from gurus like Jeff Jarvis, Mark Potts, JD Lasica, Amy Gahran, Vin Crosbie, and many others — all imploring traditional news company leaders to let go of their pasts and put online/digital first — mostly just set the stage.

It’s the sad economic situation that is finally going to force the old news companies to do what needs to be done.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

9 Responses to "The positive side of the economic collapse for media"

  1. John Fischer
    John Fischer 9 years ago .Reply

    The same lesson applies to all businesses. If you think the productivity gains of the booming ‘net’ 90s were big, just wait till you see what a technology focused economy does with a recession. I see big gains coming….

    I also predict that these productivity gains will be the primary economic factor that leads us out of a recession.

  2. Patrick Thornton
    Patrick Thornton 9 years ago .Reply


    I think you’re both right. It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this, because the economic crisis will make this transformation much more jarring.

    This isn’t just a journalism issue, however. High gas prices are what got Americans talking about alternative fuels. If prices stay lower like they are now, that surge to ween ourselves off of foreign oil will die again.

    It’s kind of sad that it takes crisis for many industries in the U.S. to change. We all know that the journalism industry needs to change. There just isn’t a serious future in a non-free daily print publication (and if e-readers become popular, even free, commuter papers will have no future). We’ve known for years that online and mobile were the future. Yet, this economic crisis is what ultimately will force companies hands.

    Had industry executives come to this realization a decade ago (during the dot com boom, when everyone realized that the Web rocked), we wouldn’t be in this mess. Journalism would be better off. Yet, again, however, we’ve waited until we got to the edge of the precipice to realize that we needed to change course.

    This is going to be on bumpy ride.

  3. Amy Gahran
    Amy Gahran 9 years ago .Reply

    How dare you call me a “guru?” :-)

    Actually, it’ll be interesting to see how monthly & national magazines shed their print editions, since I think that (moreso than newspapers) is where readers have a stronger bond to the print experience. But we’ll see…

    – Amy Gahran

  4. […] November 19, 2008 by melyt Christian Science Monitor and PC Magazine are both pulling their issues off the shelves in favor for online versions. This is simply where things are headed — here’s a great post about this.  […]

  5. […] The positive side of the economic collapse for media: "This morning I posted a few words to my Twitter account about PC Magazine’s decision to cease print publication… […]

  6. Scott Hepburn
    Scott Hepburn 9 years ago .Reply

    It will always be the case in a free-market system that economic factors will drive change, not social pressure.

    Detroit isn’t going to make energy efficient cars just because someone says “golly gee, you sure oughtta.” They’ll do it when we no longer have enough gasoline to fuel their product, or when the cost of gasoline makes their product unaffordable to consumers.

    Expecting publications to go all-online just because the technology is there is, and always has been, a delusional fantasy. I love reading online, but until recently, the money has been there in print, not the Web. Now that the money is no longer there in print, we’ll see if the Web can fill the void.

  7. mel taylor
    mel taylor 9 years ago .Reply

    agreed, the current economy will dramatically accelerate the transition of all media. I would suggest that a good bit of the legacy managers will not make it thru the turmoil, cutbacks, and rebound.

  8. […] to Steve Outing via Twitter for the link. Steve had this to say on the […]

  9. Paul
    Paul 6 years ago .Reply

    It’s 2011 now and we still have magazines in print…

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