The Digital Media vs Mainstream war takes another victim: Life

March 28, 2007

Life magazine is no more. Once again. The venerable brand that had been resurrected by Time for the third time in 2004 to serve as a newspaper supplement, is dead. The victim of declining newspaper advertising.

But, there is much more to this story. This is but one visible reminder of the tremendous upheaval underway in how we get news and information. As I blogged about earlier this year, this year is when digital or Internet media overtakes all media as the prime deliverer of news and information.

The impact of this on ad pages, stock prices, and the business climate for mainstream media is effectively told in this story from Dow Jones’ MarketWatch. 

But, my experience is that most of us in the media business are largely ignoring these signs of tremendous change. We don’t really understand them. The whole digital and Internet world is wild, confusing, too technical, out of control and too dominated by young males who have far too much time on their hands and should go back to playing video games, or better yet, go get a job. That’s at least how many of us perceive it. The reality is more and more that everyone, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, is changing how they get news, get insight and understanding of events and people and organizations that interest them, and how they interact with each other and network together.

What I have encountered in just the last few months has been stunning to me. Discovering, for example, in discussion with the CIO of a large university that email doesn’t work to reach students anymore.  Discovering yesterday, in conversation with Sally Falkow of that your press release distribution mechanism had better include a built in method of listing on a whole bunch of social media sites. And that there are a lot more than newsvine and digg it.

Sometimes it feels wearying. But the reality is, it doesn’t matter how old you are or how much or how little experience you have in this business, if you are not constantly learning what is going on in the public information environment, you are going to get left behind. And the cost of getting left behind will be high.


One Response to “The Digital Media vs Mainstream war takes another victim: Life”

  1. Chip Griffin Says:

    I suspect that the demise of Life — I believe for the 3rd time in its history? — had to do with merely the changing dynamics of information distribution. Life, at least as I remember it, doesn’t seem to fit the mold of the type of publication likely to succeed in today’s marketplace. General interest magazines with warm, fuzzy stories to tell aren’t working anymore.

    The reading public (and I use that term somewhat loosely based on the magazines that seem popular) seems drawn to niche publications. That’s something that the web is great at, but magazines that follow that path appear to be holding their own and even growing in some cases.

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