Evolution of media is occurring at a rampant pace these days as the Internet and fragmentation of media at large is driving consumers to consume their daily news and information through various mediums.
“I can’t take it anymore. I hereby inaugurate my New York Times Deathwatch, which will continue until the last Sulzberger has left the building,” says Marc Andreessen in his blog, ranting about the newspaper model as obsolete.
It is too early to say if The New York Times is headed for a museum exhibit. The paper has the third largest print circulation in the US and one of the largest—if not the largest—online readership for a newspaper.
The analogy that I fall back on with new media is what happened when the automobile was first invented. It was referred to as the “horseless carriage,” when in reality it had nothing to do with the established mode of transportation at the time. It was a radical new invention and it created a new category in itself.
So why do we even worry about how the newspaper industry is being effected by the Internet and fragmentation of media? Of course we do: it is an easy target to pick on. The real energy needs to be spent on how the evolution of the mediums is occurring and that hybrids never win the day.
What is at stake is what the future holds for how we personalize our information delivery, consume it on a device that is portable, and how we interact with it. I predict this is not newspapers becoming online newspapers, but rather new media properties evolving out of traditional mediums.
So will The New York Times evolve from being a horse and carriage to an automobile? They have a lot at stake to not evolve. Yet the true question is whether or not a new medium will emerge out of this old one and if it will be The New York Times that will drive that change in order to survive.