First there was the music business, which shifted radically when people learned to download music digitally. Movies are up next, and like music, the challenge for the movie studios is to figure out how to get people to pay for movies that they’re downloading digitally. And the next frontier is print media: newspapers, magazines, and books.
A few of my friends are traditional journalists, the kind of that get paid to write for newspapers and magazines. Whenever people say that blogs are going to take over the news, I’m not so sure. Food bloggers can easily go into the kitchen and whip up a batch of brownies, but until political bloggers start paying their own way and going to the front lines of the war in Iraq, there is still an argument for conventional journalism. But still, in order to make it work, there needs to be a way to pay for it.
The publishing industry went into a tailspin the past few years, and is trying to find its footing. Books have rebounded but many magazines and newspapers are barely hanging on, and few good ones disappeared. Those that remain reduced their staff and payroll, and with the media asking bloggers and others to work for free, it doesn’t seem to me like a sustainable business model if you’re relying on free labor to keep afloat.