The Greatest Failed Scientific Experiment Ever

Reality is that the world’s newspaper industry, indeed all of the Industrial Era’s legacy industries that are colloquially referred to as the Mass Media, have ultimately failed to adapt to the New Media environment, despite more than 25 years of endeavors, to…

Pyrrhic Practices to Preserve the Past

I’ve spend much of the morning today watching a seminar in which eight daily newspapers from different European nations present their endeavors to generate subscriptions to their websites. I was perhaps the only one of the 1,200 people–virtually all from other daily newspapers, watching this online seminar not for its tips about how to generate online subscriptions but to assess how still myopic and misguided is the world’s newspaper industry. That industry, an integral product of the Industrial Era, botched its adaptation to the Information Era (an adaptation that nonetheless would have transformed that industry into something else). The error that botched its adaptation was that the industry’s ‘digital’ (i.e., ‘online’) pioneers (1995-2005) myopically misperceived computer-mediated technologies merely as means to delivery texts, still photos, and graphics, without purchasing, printing, and distributing paper editions. In other words, they saw online merely as a electronic distribution mechanism and websites as as non-paper versions of their traditionally printed editions.

Exactly How the Newspaper Industry Lost the Future

Computer mediation means mediation, not simply electronic delivery. It means sorting and processing information on massive scales, which is what computerized technologies do best. They can sort, process, and deliver an individualized (i..e, individuated) supply of news to fit each individual consumer’s unique mix of needs, interests, and tastes. Computer-mediated technologies do this algorithmically. Computer-mediation is the hallmark of the dawning Informational Era. It makes no sense for legacy media industries not to embrace, adopt, and utilize these historically newfound capabilities. To use computer-media technologies merely as a means of electronic delivery is akin to using horses to pull an automobile along a paved road: a myopic misuse of capabilities.

Any technologies that can supply a consumer with the most precise mix of stories that match his own individual needs, interests, beliefs, and tastes, will triumph over technologies less precise. That is the reason why Google and other information search engines, why Facebook and other social media services, and why topical or ‘niche’ services that offer individuated feeds of music or other genres of information, have become so explosively successful during the past 20 years. Although they were not initial designed to provide consumers with individuated feeds of news, their computer-mediated algorithmic software can do so, as literally billions of consumers have discovered. This is why consumers now use such computer-mediated Individuated Media services as their predominant means by which they obtain news, entertainment, and other information, to the grave distress of legacy media industries that failed to adopt such technologies. That is how daily newspapers lost the future.

The Newspaper Cataclysm

The financial disaster unforlding for the daily ewspaper industries due to the coronavirus pandemic is a late-stage event in an even greater struggle that has been underway in the media environment for more than 25 years. As the Industrial Era wanes and the Informational Era dawns, the predominant means by which most people under age 40 in developed countries obtain news, entertainment, and other information is now via Individuated Media rather than Mass. Click the headline to read this essay to find out what Individuated Media are and why they are supersededing Mass Media.

Pressing ‘Reset’

In 1993, after two decades working for newspapers’ print editions and for two of the world’s major international news services, I switched the focus of my career to working full-time on journalism’s transition from print and terrestrial or cable and satellite broadcasting…

Augmented Reality for Printed Publications

We’re generally not a company that emphasizes a continuing role for paper (as opposed to epaper) in the future, but we are enthusiastic about some of the Augmented Reality mobile phone applications being developed by the Dutch company Layar for use with…

Mobile and Digital Edition Ideas from 'Beyond the Printed Word'

The annual IFRA/WAN/FIPP Beyond the Printed Word online publishing conference was held in Prague yesterday and today. A summary of the presentations is available from WAN and there is an interesting conference moblog. Here from the conference (my thanks to the IFRA…

More Thoughts on U.S. Circulation Declines

I’ve more thoughts about the accelerating declines in circulations of major U.S. newspaper: Many newspaper executives are blaming the new Do-Not-Call anti-telemarketing lists for a large portion of their newspapers’ recent circulation declines. That is disingenous. In reality, the blame should be…