It seems that almost daily we hear another report that big media is dying thanks to the internet. Radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and even local television stations are struggling, and many are predicting their demise. If you were to look at the balance sheets of these companies, you might even agree.
But before we order the tombstone, let's answer this: In this world of smart phones and tablets becoming our primary computer, are mainframe computers dead? The answer is no. We're still using mainframes. Of course, we're not using them the same way that we did in the 1980s or even in early 2000. The mainframes of today are more like super-servers. But they certainly didn't go away.
The point is that when new technology emerges, we tend to think that the old technology is completely dead, but that usually isn't the case. Rather, the old technology gets repurposed and integrated to add value to the future.
Let's look at radio as an example. Many people call radio "old media," but I would challenge that and say it's timeless media. Today, a radio station can have a website, which allows them to have video, interactivity, contests, and all sorts of things they couldn't have done in the past.
Not only that, but in the past you needed to buy a radio. Not so anymore. Your TV, computer, and even smart phone can be a radio. It's no longer a physical device; rather, it's audio-sponsored content that can be delivered anywhere, at any time.
So is radio dead? No. It's simply being reinvented. One of the keys to reinventing -- whether it's radio, print, television, or local news -- is to not deny where the future is going, but to embrace it. At the same time, you need to look at how to bring the best of the past forward.
Therefore, a good question big media needs to ask is, "What are the elements of the past that are vital for us to bring into the future?" But remember, you can't take everything -- just the things that are essential for success. Then it's about looking at how you can take those essential elements from the past and leverage them in new ways.
Remember, the old doesn't always go away; often, it gets repurposed into the new. So let's forget the concept of big media versus the internet. It's really big media and the internet. It's not an either/or world; it's a both/and world. With both/and thinking you have real reinvention, which is key to staying relevant and thriving in the future.