The line between newspapers and TV blur more and more every day. Heck, we may as well include radio in the mix. The new media universe on the web allows all forms of old media to encroach on each other’s territory. The Wall Street Journal and other papers provide audio and video coverage on their web sites (like Walt Mossberg’s column, for example). MSNBC, CNN, ABC News, and the other networks all provide text coverage on their web sites. And radio stations provide text as well, while the others offer podcasts or other audio-only content.
Recognizing this, Mark Cuban calls for old school media to acknowledge reality and seek out more formal convergence.
Riddle me this Batman: Rupert Murdoch has figured out that Print and TV can be combined to be a vertical news organization and is willing to pay 5 billion dollars to do it. Why has no one else realized the value of combining big news brands and organizations ?
Why isn’t a CBS News merging their news department with a NY Times and rebranding itself as the 6pm NY Times News ? Or with Time Magazine News ? Or NBC News and ???
Mini Media Mavens already realize this convergence is occurring and they’re taking advantage of it. Think of all the podcasters and vidcasters who also blog. The likes of Robert Scoble, Jeff Jarvis, Mike Arrington, and others are establishing their own media empires that blend text, audio, and video into a cohesive platform.
Old media is doing so, but slowly and reluctantly. Cuban’s suggestion has been adopted in small measure by traditional players, but slowly with more of a “dip the toe in the water” feel. Newspapers, for instance, have arrangements with TV where they contribute content. The Boston Globe, for example, co-brands some shows on the New England Sports Network and supplies reporters as on-air personalities. Similarly, the Washington Post and MSNBC have an arrangement where the Post contributes to the network and its web site.
Mark’s thoughts come at the same time as the blogosphere is abuzz about the significant layoffs at the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s not at all clear that convergence would help here (from afar it feels like bad business decisions got it to the point it is at), but it underscores the ongoing difficulties as traditional media try to evolve and adjust to the new media world.
Cynthia Brumfield at IP & Democracy thinks that newspapers should take their cues from the likes of those I noted above and argues:
in these days when Om Malik, Rafat Ali and Mike Arrington can whip up profitable web-based publishing empires seemingly overnight (not really overnight in the case of Om and Rafat), why can’t newspapers do the same thing? Or at least try to leverage the journalistic talent already on the payroll to forge new territories instead of letting that talent go?
If big traditional media outlets on television, radio, and in print were to take these lessons to heart, they would be able to evolve more rapidly. More importantly, however, they must learn not simply to follow the lead of the Mini Media Mavens, but to find ways to innovate on their own in order to return to the leadership spots they once held on the American media landscape.