Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oatmeal days

It's here. We knew it was coming. The frigid snowy windy days of January. And today I crossed my personal threshold, opting for a double helping of hot breakfast oatmeal instead of a morning trip to the gym.

Are these midwinter days metaphors for an economy stuck in deep freeze or is this just a short term hibernation before the thaw? (Ugh, that sounds like something right out of Chauncey Gardiner....). Well, these are somber days and we're all waiting for the presumed shot in the arm that Barack's ascension will provide. We shall see.

The media business--my bread and butter--is in the dumpster, if you buy the drumbeat of doom emanating from the trade press everyday. Bad news everywhere, especially from advertisers, the source of all profit. Nick Denton of Gawker was quoted yesterday describing recent media developments as an 'extinction level event.'. Delicious.

As a born contrarian, I am hunting for the pony in this pile of manure. Prospect meetings this week and next and no question this is a buyer's market as great media brands in need of redirection and revival come up for sale. Also time to scatter and plant the seeds of development for new brands we will be launching later this year and early next.

No matter the outcome of the recent advertising downturn, we have some serious long term issues about the impact of ad revenue driven business models on the quality and integrity of journalism and media content. We in the media biz have done this to ourselves, perhaps justifiably, as we have scaled the reach of our media brands to maximize their ad revenue potential. Revenue that has now evaporated, taking down a lot of magazines, newspapers, and websites.

How have we scaled these businesses? By providing our content to readers for free or nominal rates. Big mistake. We're paying for it now. And you don't have to be a media dinosaur like me to figure that one out.

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