While we have cast our steely eyes on the Presidential race, the world of media has been experiencing a revolution. It has been a quick, methodical coup d'etat that has reformulated the who, what, where, when and why we get our news and information. And, in a parallel with the Obama campaign, has happened from the bottom up. But, just as in every transformative event, there have been many casualties.
"Newspapers are seeing red in newsrooms nationwide. On Tuesday, Gannett said it would be laying off 3,000 employees, or roughly 10% of its total work force of about 32,000.
McClatchy said it would be shedding 10% of its work force, or about 1,150 full-time employees, leaving it with approximately 10,350. The Los Angeles Times was hit especially hard on Oct. 27--when it announced it was cutting 75 positions, following an earlier round this summer that cut 250 jobs, including 150 positions in the newsroom. This summer, the Chicago Tribune cut 80 newsroom positions--or about 14% of the total 578--and an unspecified number of jobs in other divisions, like ad sales and production.
The Baltimore Sun cut 100 positions across its various divisions. Several of Tribune's smaller papers were hit especially hard: The Hartford Courant lost 57 and The Orlando Sentinel cut 50 from its newsroom, with an unspecified number elsewhere--large numbers, given the papers' relatively small size.
Advance Publications cut about 40% of the newsroom staff at the Star-Ledger, based in Newark, New Jersey--or a little under 150 positions, as well as jobs in production and distribution--after a highly public struggle with the unionized workers at the paper."- Media Post Publications, October 30, 2008
The media revolution was started in bedrooms and dorm rooms of young women and men throughout the world. While old media-bred parents read their newspapers and watch television, their progeny were spreading the gospel of Facebook, Instant Messaging, video games and I-Pods. Typically, the older generation complained about their children's lack of concentration and berated them for multi-tasking as they did their homework.
Within a short period of time, the vertically integrated media corporation began following these young people down the new technology path. Not only did they want to latch onto the consumer soul of the demographic with the most disposable income, they saw a way to maximize profit.
The Christian Science Monitor plans major changes in April 2009 that are expected to make it the first newspaper with a national audience to shift from a daily print format to an online publication that is updated continuously each day.- The Christian Science Monitor, October 29, 2008
While the romanticism of headlines and deadlines and hands-on local, caring owners is a wonderful, 1930s notion, today's chains only look towards the bottom line. So, if you can find a way to monetize a website, you can rid yourself of the cost of paper, presses, drivers, other delivery methods, offices and many staff members. Reporters can work from home, write from the scene and even layout the story themselves. Why worry about The Front Page when there isn't any physical paper?
This uproar is being heard throughout old media. Network television viewership has been dwindling for years and, save for election events, is bottoming out. It's news programs are no longer the de facto source for American viewers. Terrestrial radio is experiencing the same decline. The recording industry lies in ruin. Landline telephones are being eliminated in entire communities and college campuses.
Each and everyone of the aforementioned has fallen victim to some quicker, faster, more adaptable piece of new technology and none has found a way to survive the onslaught. In less than a decade, cable television, satellite television and radio, Ipods, MP3 players, cellphones and bluetooths have taken over the media and entertainment landscape and left their older rivals lying by the side of the economic road.
The best evidence of this can be found in the way the Obama campaign utilized these tools to reach and expand its voting base. He famously used the internet as the foundation of its record breaking fundraising effort and tapped into the 18-24 year old demographic at an early juncture. His supporters created viral support through the creation and distribution of video on You Tube and, at the same time, manufactured new web superstars, like Obama girl, and musical efforts, like Will.I.Am's "Yes We Can" . The campaign created a universal texting plan that enabled them to reach out to millions of cellphone users and helped mobilize them into active participants. Now on the precipice of possibly winning the Presidency, the Illinois Senator can rightfully say that the newer technologies catapulted him into the White House.
"News and Media Website Hits 2/07-2/08: Up 22%
Online Newspaper and Magazine Website Hits 2/07-2/08: Up 23%"
- Source: Hitwise
"Third Quarter, 2008 Newspaper Website Hits: 68 million"
- Source: Media Post
Everything is rapidly changing. It seems as if our economic, political and journalistic worlds are transforming before our eyes. After the election is over, we have to realize that things will not return to normal because what used to be considered the norm no longer exists. Just as we will have to adjust to a new government in Washington, each and every citizen will have to learn how to be a soldier in the new media revolution. We will all have to be trained to use these information weapons in order to keep pace in what only recently seemed like a near-sci-fi world.