Signs of the times

In this morning’s Washington Post an article appeared about why two Detroit newspapers are cutting back home delivery to three days per week.

Fighting to stay in business, Detroit’s two daily newspapers will cut home delivery to three days a week, print smaller editions on other days and encourage people to get information online.

The Detroit market is the largest in the country to undergo that transformation. The move reflects a calculation facing the newspaper industry, with print circulation dropping as readers increasingly get their news on the Internet. […]

By curtailing home delivery on certain days, the papers reduce printing, fuel and labor expenses for editions that tend to attract fewer advertisements.

The article reminded me that last weekend whilst flipping through the cable news channels I landed on an MSNBC media discussion show just as some media guru was saying, “2009 is going to be the worst in media history” or words to that effect.

Detroit, of course, is deeply troubled, but the trend nationwide is clear. The traditional ways of making media in print or even TV are too expensive to compete with digital media. So it seems likely that by the time this recession is over the transformation of the media landscape will be complete. By about, oh, 2012 when “media” is mentioned we’ll be talking about what’s being communicated online.

So I don’t think it’s too rash to assert that one of the life-saving things nonprofits–large or small–need to do at this time is divert the lion’s share of their budget and intellectual capital into communications and business operations that have digital processes right at their core. There’s no time to dither or to dally.

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