Former Time Inc. Editor Discusses Media Trends
Former Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine -- now a senior advisor to the Carlyle Group -- discussed media industry trends at a luncheon Thursday hosted by the Potomac Officers Club at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Tysons Corner. Staff writer Thomas Heath was there and provided this excerpt:
"... On the one hand it is going to be more and more difficult for traditional mainstream media to provide the kinds of editorial budgets that have allowed very significant, very important reporting for our society. When you think about how much money CNN spends trying to cover the war in Iraq....this is obviously public service journalism and very important for our society to have, and if you're the guy running CNN coming into your fall budget meeting at Time Warner and you show the numbers for what you're spending, it is held up to a very harsh light. And I think that is going to be a problem for a very large number of publications at the very time when one thing you need to maintain your credibility, to maintain your audience, to distinguish your brand, is really excellent journalism. It is going to be tougher and tougher to afford it for traditional media.
The flip of that is that there really is something very exciting going on with the Internet. And there's a lot of different things. You hear a lot about social networking. And that sounds like, I don't know, Facebook or Myspace. We are actually seeing now some terrific conversations and communications from troops in the field in Iraq who are sending e-mails home in a very different kind of reporting...and reports from the field that never would have been imaginable at any prior time.
The power of the search engine is just beginning to be understood in a way that makes sense and that actually defines what news is. Purely anecdotal. I was moving apartments and I wanted to get rid of some books that I no longer had some space for and so I just typed into Google, "Give away books in New York City." And within five seconds, I came back with a list of six places, two of which would pick up where one could give away books. Now that doesn't sound like it's competitive with The New York Times, but in fact, the real growth over the last 20 years has been in service journalism...
The power of search really provides timely information that you can use. The next move forward in search is not only where I can type in something and Google will give me the name of six sites, but where Google will know enough about me where it will be sending me messages about what I should be thinking about. That's not as far fetched as it looks and I think it's on the one hand frightening for traditional media and on the other hand it's very exciting, and so you might see a little bit of what was going on in the 19th century in this country with the penny press when it was not unusual at all for a city to have 20 or 30 different newspapers competing for customers..."
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