Friday, December 4, 2009

Let's talk about print.

There has been a lot of talk of the last couple millenia about the death of print. Over the last few years, this talk has become increasingly loud.

Let me be clear and unequivocal here. Print isn't dying. It's killing itself.

Here are a couple examples. (And yes, I am angry.)

The changes that our industry are undergoing and have been undergoing for the last decade are seminal. In our center-of-the-universe way of thinking, these changes are every bit as large and fundamental as those previous generations went through when we were undergoing something seismic like the industrial revolution. In other words, these are big changes.

Now, if you are an inveterate reader of the traditional advertising trade press, that is Stuart Elliot, Adweek and Adage (and maybe a few others I am omitting) you would think that the biggest advertising issues are things like tweeting, or a client pulling Droga5's latest fake commercial or a $3 million account shift.

All these things are advertising gossip. And the aforementioned members of the trade press are the advertising equivalent of gossip magazines.

Look, it's this simple. My guess is that some former pillars of Madison Avenue--Y&R, O&M, JWT, McCann have probably fired something on the order of 50% of their employees since 2000. I might be off by a few percentage points--and sophisticated accounting practices employed by the holding companies might massage their headcounts--but this the sort of news serious journalists--and there seem to be none in the advertising trade press--should be covering.

I happen to think that serious business leaders (which usually correlate to people with serious money) would read serious news coverage if there were serious news coverage to read.

Instead print media is so dumbed-down that only dumb people read it. So the publishers and writers pursue the dumb with coverage that's even dumber driving more people out of the readership fold because coverage is dumb.

Print media is in a vicious dumb circle. That's why it is dying.


james said...

I know you posted this very early this morning, but 'dying' is not spelled 'dieing'.

george tannenbaum said...

Thanks, James.

I was typing this while tie-dyeing shirts.

Tim said...

A trend I've noticed in print ads that your post reminded me of is the "Stupid Photoshop Trick": The only copy is a lame headline that supports a rather bland photo with over-the-top retouching - like an arm holding a cell phone sticking out of someone's ear. The best retouching used to be invisible.

Tore Claesson said...

Print is also dying because there is now a belief that print ads don't work. Fewer ad pages mean cuts. Quality journalism is expensive. Cut.

Shanty Mathew said...

Agencies today have less money for acquiring and retaining talent. This affects the quality of work. Which in turn affects the what clients are willing to pay for it. Which means, well, less money...

Kelly said...


Oh my goodness. There's the title of your next book - did you see it?

The Vicious Dumb Cycle.

Start putting it together. I'm pre-ordering now.

Dead-on and brilliant as always. The vicious dumb cycle is why I transfer my allegiance a little more every years to source I hand pick on the 'net.

I would far prefer to continue reading my old easy on the eye, infinitely portable print sources. But more and more, I can't walk away from the newsstand without realizing I've read everything of use already.