Planes, Trains and Steamrollers: New-Media Juggernaut Powers On

Old Media Delivers Signs of Its Own Demise

By Published on .

SOMEWHERE OVER THE MIDWEST ( -- I'm on a plane but feel like I've been hit by a train.

The carry-on at my feet contains two books, five magazines and printouts of prep material for a panel I will moderate next week at the American Magazine Conference. It all appears a testament to the endurance of an "old" medium.
The rate and nature of change across the world of media can even make a veteran change watcher dizzy at times.
The rate and nature of change across the world of media can even make a veteran change watcher dizzy at times.

Deep breath
On my lap are two newspapers (the Times and Journal) and one magazine (Rolling Stone). I've just put them down, closed my eyes and taken a deep breath. I feel dizzy.

Why? Rather than try to explain it in my own words, I will instead offer up the headlines, sub-headlines and a couple of random sentences from the 10 stories I read in just the last half-hour. Ready?

"Tower Records shuts its doors: Chain is liquidated after declaring bankruptcy." Tower had been struggling since 2000, when CD sales started drying up.

"Apple profit rises 27%; stock jumps."

"Music companies get a share of the YouTube sale."

"NBC Universal to slash costs in news, prime time: Unit aims to cut $750 million as it confronts new media; more spending on internet."

"Big advances in tiny screens: A new generation of portable media players is arriving."

"Why old media and Tom Cruise should worry about cheaper technology."

"'Boston Globe' doesn't deliver for the 'Times'" That brainy, well-heeled populace turns out to be on the leading edge of a digital migration.

"A virtual world, but real money: Corporate marketers find much to like in a digital utopia."

"EBay reports that profit jumped 10% in quarter."

" Income rises at Dow Jones; 'Journal's ads are weaker." It was not a good quarter for the 'Wall Street Journal,' and that follows the trend of the industry.

Ten stories, one storyline. And if you, like me, earn a paycheck in the media biz, you follow it every day.

Might of the headlines
I realize nothing else I write now could be as powerful as the combined might of those headlines. So I pull out my Blackberry, type out this column on its tiny keyboard and send it off for same-day publication on the website spun out of our print product 11 years ago.

Now I'm going to put away the papers, power up my video iPod and watch "The Village." Whether to get away from it all, or immerse myself more deeply, I'm no longer really sure.
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