Nov 14, 2008

Selling out

Perhaps it was inevitable.

Hobbled by bad circulation, newspapers and magazines have searched for a miracle to restore hope and revenue to their paper-based delivery systems. The journey sometimes led them down dead-end paths of celebrity gossip - a recession proof industry - and irrelevant but entertaining first-person accounts of reporters' lives.

Now, thanks to Barack Obama, the resistable has become irresistable. A rare combination of political leader, cultural touchstone and a celebrity, Obama is newsworthy and he sells papers. No tough ethical debates, no boring Fourth Estate rants, just big photos and long, languishing thumbsuckers:
The morning after the election, Barack Obama's supporters were not the only ones celebrating. Newspaper and magazine publishers from Los Angeles to New York had reason to be happy as well. After years of losing readers to the Internet, steep declines in advertising revenue, publication closures and round after round of layoffs, the print industry witnessed something it hasn't seen in a long time: sold-out newsstands.


"You can't save and treasure a PDF file off of your computer. That's the transcendence of print that everyone in print has talked about, a certain tangible quality that can't be translated online for certain big momentous events."
The analysis glosses over an important fact. A media that depends on a powerful political figure for revenue has an even greater burden to show it can and will hold that powerful political figure accountable - memorabilia collectors be damned. After all, what's the point of selling out if you've sold out.

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