I’ve been saying for a while that we’ve reached a plateau in the graph of journalism and technology development. That doesn’t mean that overall the pace will drop or that there aren’t more significant shifts to come in the next 3-5 years. But I would cite two things in the last 24-48 hours that make my case that news media development goes up in steps, not a straight line.
My (over-done) metaphor to describe this was of huge armies of corporate media emerging from the confusing fog of digital war. At last they had a sense of where the battle lines are: mobile, algorithms, native advertising, millennial’s, wearables, etc. They have moved on from denial to mobilising their forces and re-arming for the next phase of war. But they are not entirely sure who the enemy is, what victory looks like, or where exactly the next battle is.
The other straw in the wind is the wonderful annual Pew State Of The Media report that tells you everything you need to know about US journalism as a business. It has loads of details to show that TV news is surprisingly resilient and that digital revenues are up and, well, not much else new.
That’s because we are at a plateau on the long (never ending) climb to sustainability. Today’s Google handout of $150 million to encourage digital innovation in European journalism (nothing to do with the EC anti-trust moves of course) is another sign that things are normalising, becoming routinely political.
That’s all good and, in a way, quite healthy. Though I notice that the corporate world still resorts to good old-fashioned narrow responses such as WPP’s Martin Sorrell’s prediction of more consolidation in media businesses. Yes, that is what you do when you run out of innovative steam.
Of course, being on a plateau just means the next climb is to ahead of you. Being on on a flat merely means that it’s nearly time to step up.