Journalists have never been particularly fond of advertising or advertisers – to most journalists, advertising was space and time taken away from good stories and advertisers were commercial interests trying to bribe or subvert them. Ironically, now journalists are wishing there were more advertisers with deep pockets – and so are media proprietors, as they watch their audiences and share prices tumble.
Not only have the "rivers of gold" that flowed from classified ads dried up, but print display and broadcast advertising volume and rates are falling, as mass audiences fragment into myriad micro-audiences and grazing information consumers roaming the internet.
Some observers and commentators cannot resist the “I told you so” reaction, as warning signs of transformative change in media production and consumption have been evident for some time. Rupert Murdoch admitted in a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in New York in 2005 that he and his massive media empire were slow to recognise the importance of the internet. In the 2009 A.N. Smith Memorial Lecture in Journalism, managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott said “We have reached a point that we should perhaps have seen was coming, yet largely we did not”.
But pointing fingers and 20-20 hindsight are of no more use than the head-in-the-sand approach of the 1990s and early 2000s. The multi-billion question now is “what business model can sustain commercial media in future”? Not only is that question on the minds of media proprietors and shareholders, but the careers of many journalists and quality journalism – long recognised as integral to a healthy democracy – are also on the line, as they have long been dependent on their love-hate relationship with advertising.
So, what will be the business model of commercial media in future?
Read the full article at the Conversation.