As media changes, bigwigs are increasingly more concerned with ads than content

Came across this blerb in Winnipeg

New media is proving to be a slippery fish, and the fat cats heading our media empires are approaching the Internet the way a 16-year-old virgin approaches a bra that clasps in the front.

The world is changing faster every moment, and small, independent media companies that used to be able to adapt are now great lumbering leviathans that don’t even know how many arms they have. These archaic money factories are suddenly feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under them as newsprint costs rise, distribution models fail, DVRs strip away ads, and pockmarked kids use the Internet to wreak havoc with broadcasting and copyright laws.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, U.S. Internet advertising revenue passed that of radio in 2007, meaning the web has knocked off one of the big three that had been coasting along since the days of Orphan Annie decoder rings – and don’t think the suits in print and TV aren’t feeling a few beads of sweat running down their greasy backs.

And so what are our media companies doing to keep up with the times?

Simply put, many are stupidly devaluing their products in clumsy, base attempts to suck in more dollars.

For example, many print outlets are butchering their online content with pop-up ads that appear after you start reading and actually obscure the text. They trick you into looking at them, and they’ll only disappear after a certain amount of time unless you can locate the tiny ‘close’ button hidden oh-so-carefully in the ad.

And here’s where great journalists such as Edward R. Murrow roll over in their graves.

On the surface, all this may seem petty. You just wait for the ad to leave and you read the story. But if you really think about it, you’re now being forced to view advertising, and you’re seeing what I consider actual proof that media outlets no longer care about their content.

Think about it like this: if 9/11 happened today, you might go online to read breaking updates from Ground Zero.

“America is in shock after one of the worst.” the story might start – and then comes the pop-up ad some publisher believes is more important than critical news.

I think this kind of advertising is a sign of things to come. Print has already sold out with ads that purposely blur the lines between advertising and news, and TV and radio are wastelands of product placement, infomercials and sponsor tags. I’m sure we’re only a few years away from DVDs that force you to watch previews and commercials.

I don’t like being forced to do anything, and I think it’s a truly dark day when journalists roll over and allow their work to be covered up by an ad, even if those in charge parrot lines such as “ads pay the bills.”

Advertising dollars may indeed pay the bills, but media does not exist for its clients. Media exists for people, and outside of the Cannes Lions and the Super Bowl, no one goes looking for ads. Ads are secondary to actual content, and when that content is cheapened or eliminated, the product is worthless and ultimately unmarketable.

Good writing sells papers; advertising does not.

Our media empires should realize that before it’s too late.