Video will not save your media business. Nor will bots, newsletters, a “morning briefing” app, a “lean back” iPad experience,
Slack integration, a Snapchat channel,or a great partnership with Twitter.
All of these things together might help, but even then, you will not be saved by the magical New Thing that everyone else in the media community is convinced will be the answer to The Problem.
I can tell you from personal experience over the last several months, having met with countless investors and leaders of media companies and editors and writers and technologists in the media world that there is a desperate belief that The Problem can be solved with the New Thing. And goddammit someone must have it in their pitch deck. A new kind of video app. The best news stories of the day, except all on video. Video, but with subtitles. Only 30 second videos, designed for vertical screens. A personalized Facebook bot that delivers only the video you want. Video on-demand, over-the-top, linear, succulent, meaningful, plentiful, attention-grabbing video!
Or maybe a newsletter of some type. A video newsletter.
But let me back up.
What’s The Problem, you ask? The Problem is that we used to have a really neat and tidy version of a media business where very large interests controlled vast swaths of the things we read, watched, and listened to. Because that system was built on the concept of scarcity and locality — the limits of what was physically possible — it was very easy to keep the gates and fill the coffers. Put simply, there were far fewer players in the game with far fewer outlets for their content, so audiences were easy to sell to and easy to come by.
Then digital. Then you and me. And all of a sudden all those old, fixed channels started falling apart. Papers didn’t sell. Magazines died. Networks scrambled. Local news meant a lot less. Local papers even less than that. Suddenly a lot more free stuff was available online, and anyone could start a blog! But the media industry is a hulking, stupid, slow moving beast that has little awareness about its threats and surrounding environs. I’m skipping over a few parts, but by and large the industry responded to the promise (or threat, as they treated it) of digital by ignoring it or denying it.