About Yet Another Print Magazine Imploding


Sorry, I couldn’t resist writing that headline! Dotdash Meredith company, which is based in Iowa and nowadays owns Martha Stewart Living magazine, announced last week that it was ceasing to publish in print and would be available in the future only online. The Des Moines Register newspaper in Iowa reported Dotdash Meredith Chief Business Officer¬†Alysia Borsa saying, “We are as enthusiastic as ever for the digital potential of the brand and will focus our full attention on growing the digital business.” She added that 20 New York City-based workers will be “impacted” by the end of the print edition. Whether Martha Stewart’s or anybody else’s magazine imploding, here are some thoughts about it:

All the Mass Media industries are based upon the analog production practices of the Industrial Era analog media technologies–no matter how much or many of those practices’ packages of otherwise printed or broadcast contents are shoveled online. Thus, all of the Mass Media industries (including the magazine industry) are imploding as the computer-mediated technologies of the dawning Informational Era supersede and obsolesce them.

Although the Mass Media industries have mistaken computer-mediated technologies as merely a paperless or antennae-less means of delivering their contents, the hallmark advantage of computer-mediated technologies aren’t their wired or wireless capabilities but the computerized part of computer-mediation. That is capable of providing consumers with highly customized or even individuated feeds of news, entertainment, and other information, something the Mass Media industries production practices can’t do. The Mass Media industries myopically failed to perceive and understand that advantage, but several New Media companies started since 1998 understood and implemented it phenomenally well!

For example, I originally wrote this posting on Facebook, which provides each of its consumers a feed that is not only based upon that individual’s own mix of friends but his unique selection of ‘Likes’, ‘Follows’ and Facebook’s aggregation of virtually all sources, plus Facebook’s recordings and algorithmic analysis of what, who, and which people or organizations he has commented on or interacted with. Although Facebook has more than 2.3 billion users (certainly mass in reach, indeed more than any Mass Media company in the world), each of Facebook’s 2.3 billion users will at the same time see a quite different and unique feed of contents than every other user (totally unlike any Mass Media).

Facebook, Twitter, Renren, Vkontake, Sina Weibo, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, YouTube, Yuku, Google News (and indeed Google Search, Bing, and other search engines), provide each of their consumer with a highly customized or nearly individuated feeds or results, rather than providing each customer with the same feed or package of contents that all of their customers get at the same time. These companies provide Individuated Media, products and services of the Informational Era, totally based upon computer-mediated technologies, and a new genus of media that is not what we colloquially know as Mass Media.

Although many executives of the Mass Media industries dismiss such services as merely ‘aggregators’ and it is true that Individuated Media companies do select items of contents from an aggregation ideally of all sources, no Individuated Media company aggregates the exact same feed or package (i.e., edition, playlist, program schedule, etc.) of contents to all of its consumers as all Mass Media companies do. Instead, an Individuated Media company provides each of its consumer with a unique package or feed, which better matches that individual’s own unique mix of needs, interests, and tastes than any Mass Media package or feed can.

That is the new in ‘New Media’, indeed a new dimension in media that those myopic executives of Mass Media industries failed to perceive and understand, thereby dooming their industries. It is why the Individuated Media, although unknown prior to 1998, is now used by more than 3.5 billion people (half of humanity) worldwide; why the Individuated Media industries now reap more than 50% of the world’s advertising revenues (e.g., better targeting of ads); and why Individuated Media has already superseded the Mass Media as the predominant means by which most consumers obtain news, entertainment, and other information.

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