Follow The Money -- Capitalism Puts The Final Nail In Legacy Politics

Just as the Big 3 claimed their troubles have nothing to do with the crap cars they produce and everything to do with the economic crisis, so too will many newspapers try to claim the decline is not their fault.
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Money talks. And yesterday it screamed that legacy media, and the legacy politics that goes hand in hand with them, is in its death throes.

The gap between the potent future of new media and the dinosaur that is legacy media first became a chasm and is now the Grand Canyon of business case studies. As major online sites, such as this one, see skyrocketing traffic and readership, formerly major newspapers see a continual decline in readers, and ultimately, advertisers.

Here's the headline:

That, by the way, is a quarterly drop. When you drop from $10 billion to $8 billion in a quarter, you're headed for oblivion. Just as the Big 3 claimed their troubles have nothing to do with the crap cars they produce and everything to do with the economic crisis, so too will many newspapers try to claim the decline is not their fault.

It is.

Why is newspaper ad revenue plummeting? Two primary reasons. Readership and Clicks. As major dailies across the country report double digit drops in subscriptions and readers every six months, the advertising revenue that is based upon those numbers drops accordingly.

In a remarkably arrogant move, what newspapers have been doing is raising rates in the face of declining readers to keep income even. It sounds stupid but it's true. Many have also doubled their newsstand prices with the same logic. The industry is headed to roadrunner status, speeding along and over the cliff, arrogance and incompetence, full steam ahead.

As far as clicks are concerned, online advertising is more trackable, easier for consumers and more powerful. Click, learn, sign up or buy. And go on about your online day.

The Christian Science Monitor has read the writing on the wall and will go all digital, no print at the first of the year. Other newspapers are soon to follow. This will blur the lines between traditional journalism and new journalism like is practiced here. No longer will a campaign or company or cause be able to exclude a blogger because we are all bloggers now.

Actually I lie.

We are all journalists now. The border has been erased completely.

But the death spiral of legacy media makes the traditional political media self-congratulatory parade all the more painful to watch. While online news sites, I'm thinking Firedoglake for example, with great writers like Christy Hardin-Smith and Jane Hamsher, are getting 60,000 plus readers a day, noted DC pundits are writing for magazines and newspapers whose circulation is slipping fast and already, from a political readership point of view, well below that.

When the daily readership of the Huffington Post is 5 times that of the Boston Globe, who should get an interview first?

When the daily readership of Daily Kos is 20% higher than the LA Times, whose endorsement will matter more?

Now, many legacy media folks will be grinning now, scratching their heads, and dismissing my talk as the rantings of a lunatic.

But it's not me speaking, it's the marketplace screaming out loud.

There is one more reason that will drive more journalism from non-traditional sources.

Online revenues will never support that legacy media infrastructure because there are virtually no inherent costs in creating online media. The number of sites will continue to explode and clutter the airwaves and literally, the initial cost of launching a blog is $10 a month.

Even fairly sophisticated sites can be built for a fraction of what it cost a year or two ago. So more and more sites go up, more and more content gets created. Visitors and viewers are not going up quite so fast anymore. In the US for example, the majority of people who will be wired, are wired.

Many sites are running 20-30% empty right now with plenty of ads to sell and space to fill. There is no pressure or ability for the sites to raise their prices. The trackability of online advertising that is so appealing to advertisers also inherently limits the ability of sites to raise prices.

A salesman for the New York Times can't tell an advertiser exactly how many people will see the ad, or what those people will do. They can only sell on broad demographics and hope. An online sales person can tell exactly.

To sum it all up, more readers online, more advertisers online.

More power online.

End of story.

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