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The future of news is Time Warner’s to lose. Which they probably will. 10/18/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in TimeWarner.
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In the first phase of the future of news, “mass media” will become “competitive mass media,” as consumer dissatisfaction with Old Media continues to be driven by the Internet, talk radio, and cable news. This will embolden new players like News Corp to take-on Old Media in newspapers (Wall Street Journal vs. NY Times), cable news (Fox vs. CNN), and cable business news (Fox Business Channel vs. CNBC).

But News Corp is not nearly as well-positioned for the second phase, when the Internet will lead to news that is highly fragmented. When political news becomes a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas, a unified image under a single brand name like “Fox” will be undesirable. Moreover, there will be many more types of news, especially more news that directly affects the lives of each of us as individuals — news of friends, family, hyperlocal communities, careers, and recreational interests.

On paper, Time Warner is much better positioned than News Corp for this fragmented future of news. Their Time Inc. division publishes about 130 magazines for diverse interests, with audiences that range from large (People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated) to small (Amateur Gardening, Cage & Aviary Birds, Guitar, Racecar Engineering, and Yachting World). Their CNN division is an international leader in cable news. And, their AOL division is a leader in global web services. In fact, AOL’s chief executive Randy Falco is even talking-up fragmentation, highlighting AOL’s strength in consisting of different brand names with different images and audiences, just like packaged goods giant Procter & Gamble.

But while Time Warner looks great on paper, it is paper that keeps it from being great. At its core is Time Magazine, a dinosaur’s dinosaur, which contributes to an Old Media, print-based culture. Time Inc.’s print collaborations with CNN have been less than inspiring, and Tuesday’s layoff of 1,200 AOL employees speaks ill of their ability to translate their print success online. So, with neither News Corp or Time Warner configured for the fragmented news of the future, which company will dominate news? For anyone to “dominate,” there must be “mass media.” So, the answer may well be “no one.”

Comments»

1. Ed Driscoll.com - 10/19/07

The Dinosaurs’ Last March

Hugh Hewitt looks at “Katie Couric And The California Adventure That Isn’t”, two very high-priced Blue experiments that have failed to win much Red State support. You can scroll through this blog for endless suggestions to improve the former’s effo…

2. roger ach - 10/20/07

It’s too bad that TW/AOL/CNN haven’t discoverd the Stealth Project called OurTown.com, which will launch in 2 weeks. It’s the perfect bridge among the various TW properties.

OurTown.com is inter-active participative journalism covering 70,000 US communities, combined with a national brand and platform.


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