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A pyrrhic victory

Zafar Anjum | Dec. 10, 2008
Will online medias triumph over the print turn out to be a pyrrhic victory in the long run?

This ongoing discrimination is crucial to understand, as it is still tipping the scale in favour of a dying medium.

The advertisers apply a different set of rules for the online medium. Even their expectations (in terms of ROI) are different. Thats why the media companies, despite winning favour with the online readers, are struggling to keep their printing machines running. This trend is proving deadly this year as online ads are slowing down: IDG reported that US online advertising (including for companies such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and MySpace) has seen its growth lose significant speed in the first half of this year. Compared with the first half of 2007, online ad spending grew 15.2 per cent to US$11.5 billion in the U.S. The news is bad for the third quarter too: 11 per cent growth compared to 25 per cent in 2007.

Readers are shifting from print to online but the advertisers are still playing by the old rules. This is harming the entire industry. Thats why many publishers are going out of business.

Many media experts believe that this would lead to the consolidation of print. The weaker titles might even die. In a free market that is the natural thing to happen. Dont expect governments to bail them out as they did with the Wall Street or they are doing with the auto industry. We will keep hearing the same bad news: bankruptcies, buy outs, lay offs and outsourcing.

But the triumph of the online media over print might turn out to be a pyrrhic victory. The world will be less democratic with the death of the print media institutions, the fourth estate of democracy. This is very important because the major media institutions set the agenda for public debate and carry out investigations with their army of reporters and journalists that is beyond the means of a humble blogger or online news network.

This too might change in the future but thats something hard to predict.

Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia portal. 


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