Bloggers and Internet news-digesters write so extensively about the success of online media—and potential for more success, and capability to accomplish blistering successification—that it’s more than I can reasonably be expected to appreciate. Occasionally, I proclaim that I’ll stop reading anything online altogether and declare, with fist-swirling certainty: “If I see one more blog, I’m going to blog all over my blog.” This probably just reinforces the notion that I’ve read too much online media analysis. (Also, I’m totally blogging about blogging on this blog right now, man. I must be approaching that point of cessation.)
And then I exhale. Writing for the Times Online, Jonathan Weber breaks down the still-vibrant profitability of print media vis-à-vis Internet media. As he reports, local magazines and newspapers—i.e., those in “Anytown, USA”—still generate more ad revenue than their online homes because local print sources remain more visible and desirable to their constituent markets. Simply put, ad revenue is still persistently print-oriented.
Weber also notes that newspapers have not, in general, become unprofitable. Rather, they are no longer “extremely profitable,” as they were following fifty years’ worth of media consolidation that left U.S. metropolitan areas large and small with one newspaper instead of three or four. Weber’s own online magazine, NewWest.Net, is set to launch as a print venture in “a few weeks,” and he anticipates that it will out-earn the website for at least the next two or three years.
By the time online-media revenue catches up to print, things will have changed considerably: I'm thinking we’ll all be curled up in homes constructed with recycled newspaper in updated Hoovervilles, synchronizing our cerebral implants as our bodies absorb the all-encompassing contents of the Internet.