Monday, March 05, 2007

Living in the 80's (Or, Old Media habits Die Hard)

Working for a newspaper I'm far more familiar than I care to be with the arguments that papers are doomed: doomed to lose readers, thereby doomed to lose money etc., etc., ad-infinitum. While I see it happening, I will tell you the dirty little secret that ought to accompany those reports.

That is, newspapers--while still behind the eight-ball due to a late start--understand the need to move from print to online and into other delivery vehicles. In some cases, the online edition's 'circulation' can sometimes outpace the print circulation. At the NY Times, Bill Keller's recent comments about the future of his product intimate just that.

Suffice it all to say, media habits are changing and will continue to.

In the meantime I've noticed that media habits die hard, particularly for people in my age cohort and older. Take for instance my in-laws.

I love them dearly...always have and always will. But they still get their news like it's 1985.

As a teenager in the early 80's, the routine was always the same in my house: watch the early local edition of the news at 5:00 o'clock, again at 6:00 followed by the network news (Tom Brokaw and NBC being the preferred provider). At 7:00, take a break with some Jeopardy and/or Wheel of Fortune which led into the night's prime-time offerings. For a nightcap of course, what else...local TV news again at 11:00, assuming anyone was still up that late.

During the run-up to Green Thursday, the four of us spent many an evening planning things out over dinner; sometimes at our place, sometimes theirs. Every night at their house was the same. In the background, pretty much everything I've just described.

It isn't that they're not 'connected'; I personally connected their DSL. For them though the Internet is a distraction, not a destination. It is for email and whiling away a spare half-hour at the end of the day at MSN.

It is not where you go for your news. That's still what the anchorman is for.

I read Hugh daily and I've read and believe I understand his concept of new media and how it drastically differs from the 'old'. His longer-term vision of how the new will replace old media-gathering habits I believe is correct. I'm just not convinced it's near as far along as he sometimes believes.

Media habits die hard.

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