Media Death Watch

By Megan McArdle

"Will the last journalist to exit the industry please turn off the lights on their way out?" 

That's what I really should have headlined this post.  Editor and Publisher has spent the last few years chronicling the demise of scrappy upstarts and venerable media institutions.  Now E&P is shutting down.  It's been covering the publishing industry for over 100 years.  Unfortunately, there's less and less industry to cover.

Incidentally, every time I write one of these posts, I get accused of doing my grim blogger dance on Old Media's grave.  This is emphatically not the point.  I work in the media.  For a venerable print publication, no less.  The demise of newspapers and magazines does not make me happy, even at the most selfish level, since it means more competition for the few remaining jobs.  At a marginally less selfish level, I love the splendiferous proliferation of outlets, print and web; the death of every one pains me.  (Well, almost every one.  I cannot say I have much wept for Hallmark magazine or Cottage Living.  But I still feel bad for the journalists involved.)  At the least selfish level, I quote Tom Stoppard:  information is light.  Fewer journalists looking for information makes us all a little worse off.

But I'm deeply concerned about the revenue model of all media.  Web advertising is starting to come into its own, but it still has a long way to go. And print ads are collapsing, particularly in newspapers, where Craigslist and similar services have decimated once-lucrative classified ads.  Many publications are dying in the gap between the old model and whatever is coming down the road.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/12/media-death-watch/31634/