I am so over newspaper executives, industry experts, et al talking about the solutions to the burning-tail nosedive that we are in. My ire was rekindled by a piece from Steve Outing called Do Newspaper Have 6 Months? where he talks about the recent API (American Press Institute) meeting of newspaper CEOs and other Important People to address The Problems.
Outing, astutely, points out that the time for talking in broad strokes is somewhat past. I love his graph on the Phases of a Crisis. But what follows in the comments and discussions is so more of same, I am physically uncomfortable. I have the same reaction to almost any site that is part of the Mainstream Media. Why?
Because the newspaper industry is just now waking up to ideas about media and the Internet and journalism that are almost old. Virus of the Mind (web site design is practically a fossil). The Long Tail. Cluetrain Manisfesto. Ambient Findability. Waiting for Your Cat to Bark. Anything by Seth Godin.
As happens so often, the blogosphere -- which newspapers STILL think is nothing but a collection of kitty photos and grammatically flawed rants -- has been so far ahead of the curve, that I, for one, can't stand talking about it anymore. It's like a freshman who just discovered existentialism and makes a black-and-white film about death.
So many "leaders" are standing on the shoulders of giants, discussing these ideas has if they thought of them, as if they are now the insightful experts who will lead the way. To what, exactly?
Dave Winer posted this comment on the Outing piece :
Bingo. All they are thinking about, as they enter truly epic financial woes, is how they can save themselves. Not how they can reconstruct tattered journalism,or participate in reinventing media or contribute to technology. And certainly not how they can empower people.
When they could talk about those things, when it was still about profit and not about survival, they refused. We are not talking about people who have been on the cutting edge of anything or who have waged valiant battles against censorship and secrecy. In fact, they've filed lawsuits to restrict information.
There is not enough oxygen left in the world to talk about this anymore. The hot air is contributing to global warming. Newspapers are not going to die. Newspaper corporations are going to die.
And is that surprising? Hello! The banking industry? The auto makers? The rules by which these companies conduct business no longer work. I'd bet my stimulus package that in every single company, you will find people who saw it coming. People who pointed out things that weren't working. People who saw better ways to do things. Innovators and thinkers and change-bringers.
I'll bet they aren't the CEOs or vice-presidents. In fact, I'll bet they aren't anywhere close to being high-powered executives. And it's a sure thing that, if they weren't among the first to be let go, they'll be getting the layoff notices just like everyone else. Despite the chance that they could contribute.
It has got to change. Old forms must die. And they will Interregnum.