I have absolutely no sympathy for all those print newspapers and magazines that are haemorrhaging actual honest to god unique content providers aka journalists/reporters/copywriters/editors in a vain attempt to recover from plummeting revenue and increasing debt load.
Twice, first in the 80's and second in the 90's, newspapers set up research projects that mostly correctly forecast what, first, internet news, secondly, web news delivery might look like. Both times they shuttered the projects and let time and others pretty much create the future they foresaw. Xerox-Park all over again. And then again.
Newspapers lost their financial foundation aka classifieds to Craigslist et al because, ta da!, it was free! In the face of that competition slash hijack did they immediately fight back by leveraging their cashflow and credit to also offer free classifieds and drive competitors down and out out out? Of course not! I just checked several national newspapers and what did I, to my total lack of surprise, find? Charges of $10 to $20 per line! Yup, 10-1/2 years after the advent of Craigslist et al newspapers continue on as if nothing has changed in all that time; except of course their number of subscribers and their bottom line.
And then there are their websites. Where, pretty much across the board, they have given up their century plus expertise in advertising and outsourced to cut rate third party third rate ad networks. Where they seem unable to synchronise digital and print editions - I mean, at some point the front 'pages' should bear some semblance of similarity. Nope, digital and print are, generally, two separate organisations within the company that, apparently, are not communicating.
Some day, for a truly brutal experience of total disconnect, sit down with Vogue magazine (print edition) and open the Vogue website. Yup, two very different experiences, two very different ad formats/methodologies; if it weren't for the mastheads one could be excused for thinking they were two different companies with two different offerings.
What enterprise newspaper/magazines do seem to be able to do right, every single time, is to pick the solution most likely to drive users away. They often hire great web developers, expert SEO's but with default news agency, i.e. Associated Press, Reuters, supplied duplicate content, overabundance of irritating mediocre third party supplied ads, overpriced classifieds... it's amazing they still exist!
I do sympathise with the thousands of laid off journalists, reporters, copywriters, and editors. It's not their fault their publishers are and have been for so long willfully ignorant and manifestly incompetent when it comes to the internet/web. Who spent the past two decades piling up debt by buying competitors instead of investing thoughtfully in the new medium. Who saw the future and turned their backs on it. Etc. Et al. Ad nauseum.
The only major 'thing' missing from the future described so very well now so very long ago is micro-payments. Of course they do exist in parts of Africa (even brutally continually ravaged Somalia!), south and east Asia, but not in the 'developed' western world. Inertia and entrenched behaviours and filter bubble mindsets are truly powerful forces. The debt overhanging so many media organisations foregoes both research and change. Even Jeff Bezos's intervention in the Washington Post is not doing much more than maintaining the status quo. And that is, sooner rather than later, a death knell in digital.
Here, at WebmasterWorld, we discuss the problems of those of us smaller businesses scurrying about the web earning a living and there is certainly fear, doubt, blame, and angst aplenty. However, there are, as mentioned above, behemoths that are suffering and failing as well. Ignorance, incompetence, miscalculation, and failure to adapt: the four horsemen of business can and will take down any size enterprise. Some die quick and some linger but eventually they bleed out. Unless...
Sometimes I just want to sell out and walk away and put my feet up. Where those of us who have built a continuing success upon the web tend to remain silent I refuse to, as the Welsh bard so aptly put it, go quietly into that good night. I shall instead continue to rage, rage against the dying of the light. After all, what else should I do in my old age that is as intriguing, as challenging, as contrary, as satisfying, as being a webdev?