Internet Fanboys claim that the invincible air attack of the Series of Tubes will shred the ground game of Boring Old Media — that there’s no way newspapers, TV and radio stations compete with the lightning speed and low-cost goodness of the interwebs,
Four yards and a cloud of dust has no chance. This game will be over at halftime when the score is 44-7.
So, it’s halftime and we’re bored. Let’s talk about a blog so powerful and amazing that it posted not seven times a week, but hundreds of times every day — a blog with a professional staff of writers, designers and minions, cranking out news scoops and funny posts.
A blog so strong that it doesn’t burn through venture capital like cocaine at a ’70s disco, but MAKES monies year after year, with millions of page hits and paid subscribers.
Oh, that kind of blog must be making Boring Old Media quake in their boots. See? The Internet Fanboys are right. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Except that blog is called “every newspaper on the planet in a city large enough to support at least one Home Depot.”
Logic: not just for the Spock
It’s a logical fallacy to say you have to choose between the ground game (Old Media) and the air attack (the Series of Tubes).
Old Dead Media has a ground game AND an air attack. Every newspaper, TV and radio station with half a brain is on the internet already.
Are many members of Old Media doing it wrong? Absolutely. Giving away all that content for free, online, is a suicidal business model. If people have to pay to get a newspaper delivered but can get it online for free, a lot of people will stop subscribing.
Giving it away online while charging for print newspapers is like a pizza joint telling people it’s $15 for a pepperoni and sausage pie if you walk in the door, but if you order it online, they’ll deliver it to your house for free. Not smart. Not sustainable. Old Media is slowly figuring out that mistake.
Now, it’s also true that newspapers in America have laid-off 15,000-plus reporters. A big part of this is because newspaper chains borrowed massive amounts of money to buy up every paper in sight, then had problems paying the debt load.
Newspapers around the world are actually growing and doing just fine. They have boatloads of content, talented writers and reporters and a built-in audience of people who want local news, stuff they can’t really get anywhere else. A blog in Atlanta isn’t going to cover the Cleveland City Council.
Radio and television news haven’t suffered as bad as newspapers, and they actually benefit a lot more from going online, because it gives them an entirely different outlet and a way to archive content. Newspapers and magazine are solid and unchanging – you can fill libraries with them. Radio and TV archives used to only exist in racks of tapes in the studio. Now all that content is finding a home online.
Radio and TV stations are also getting smart by forming partnerships with newspapers, while newspapers are giving local bloggers a home base to find more readers. A blogger who’s on a newspaper or radio station’s site instantly has more credibility and exposure. Both benefit.
Ground game + air game = win
The steady ground game gives Old Media a solid base to air out the ball. When you’re already making money, you can take risks and branch out.
Putting existing content on the internet isn’t really a risk. A reporter writes a story about some crazy bank robber who dresses up like Batman, and police have video. The story is written and goes in the paper. Now let’s put it on the Internet – oh, wait, click, we’re done. Also, here’s a link to the video, which we can’t put in the newspaper anyway.
More options and more audiences means more success. Being stuck in only one medium — or having a football team that can only pass the ball — limits you. You want to have more than one way to win a game … or open a bottle when there’s no bottle opener in sight.
If you’re a startup living on venture capital or fumes, there isn’t much time or wiggle room. Do or die.
Will some blogs, Tweeters and Pinteresters (pinners?) develop a ground game? Maybe. Not likely.
This fact hasn’t stopped every PR firm on the planet from rebranding themselves as “social media consultants” and every corporation and non-profit from pouring tons of energy into Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs, Pinterests shebangs and seven other things that were invented by Silicon Valley this morning.
Some of that stuff will be somewhat useful, or very useful.
A lot of it will be a giant time suck.
But that won’t stop millions of people from ignoring Old Media entirely while they hug the Series of Tubes tightly to their bosom.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.