Sunday, April 24, 2005

Predictions on the Future of the MSM

Question: What killed the MSM?
Answer: Word of mouth.

George Will quotes statistics on the consumption of media and the future doesn't look bright for the Main Stream Media. Read the column in the NY Post.

New York Post Online Edition:

Will contends that it’s a loss of respect that doomed the MSM. He also ties the MSM's decided liberal bias to that loss of respect. Personally, I feel that this may be the reason people began to look towards other outlets but it does not adequately explain the complete picture. A loss of respect is not what doomed the MSM. One can almost always recover from a loss of respect (politicians do it all the time) but I don't think that there is any way that old time media outlets can save the genre. So what's the difference? The MSM is in the same position as buggy whip makers of yesteryear. No amount of advertising could have saved the whip makers because there were profound changes in the structure of their market. The MSM lives and dies on being the sole distributor of news and there are just too many structural changes in the way news can be distributed. Let me explain.

It is a fallacy to think that the MSM had a monopoly over the distribution of news. The true distribution channel for news is, and always has been, word of mouth. Think about the events of September 11, 2001. How many of us were watching TV or listening to the radio during the actual attacks? I know I wasn't. But there was one secretary listening to the radio. I heard her talking about the report and quickly informed others. The reason we give the MSM credit for being the purveyors of news is that it used to have a monopoly on access to the news events themselves. The MSM was able to place reporters at important events and then only television, radio and print outlets had the capital to create and distribute news reports. But now, Internet access is fairly ubiquitous. We no longer need a single reporter to create a report. We have dozens of people who are willing and able, because of the Internet, to talk about the events in real time. An excellent example is the recent incident of Peter Tan who blogged during an earthquake. We can now get the report directly into the most efficient distribution channel, word of mouth. Soon, we simply will not need the big media outlets.

(hat tip Sweet Spirits of Ammonia)