A Eulogy for Old Media
3 min read

A Eulogy for Old Media

A eulogy is a speech of praise, typically — although not necessarily — for the dead, which seems fitting for a post about the lingering charms and strengths of Old Media.

According to a recent survey, New Media still has a long way to go to earn the public’s trust, at least in the UK:

Respondents were asked what percentage of the information they received from various sources they believed to be accurate, true and unbiased.

Around 66% said national television was the most accurate and was trusted as highly as family and friends.

National, regional and local newspapers were chosen by 63% of respondents, and radio was chosen by 55%.

Only 36% of respondents rated websites and 24% rated blogs.

AdAge has related stats for the US:

According to Jupiter Research, 7% of American adults write blogs and 22% read them; about 8% listen to podcasts and 5% use RSS feeds. According to a separate study by WorkPlace Print Media, 88% of the at-work audience doesn’t even know what RSS is.


While higher numbers of preteens and teens do flock to the web, according to a study by Frank N. Magid Associates, 66% claim they never watch video online and 41% never listen to or download free music online. When it comes to paid content, 84% have never paid to watch or download video and 71% never pay to listen to or download music. Sixty-nine percent never use social-networking sites, 71% have never posted a comment on a blog and 79% have never written their own blogs (though 15% do so frequently).


Only 1% of the country’s 210 million mobile-phone subscribers said they choose service providers based on entertainment options, according to Jupiter Research, despite networks’ best mobisode-creation efforts.

While such data should temper some of the hype, my guess is we’re still just seeing the tip of the iceberg. 7% of American adults writing blogs is actually pretty astonishing — I’m surprised that 7% of adults write ANYTHING on a regular basis. And 22% reading blogs is pretty darn good for a form of publishing that did really exist before five or so years ago. USA Today tries to use “disappointing” first weekend ticket sales for Snakes on a Plane to debunk the power of online buzz — but come on, it was a move about SNAKES ON A PLANE — how many people are really going to go see it? And the online discussion actually influenced the production of the movie!

So New Media is indeed a force to be reckoned with and will eventually take a huge share of attention from Old Media. But Old Media will persist. Radio didn’t kill print. TV didn’t kill radio. And cable didn’t kill broadcast. The shape of media will change in ways that we are only beginning to imagine.

I’ll end with some praise for a New Old Media venture — 8020 Publishing, which aims to publish, of all things, print magazines.

Here at JPG HQ, we’re web critters. Collectively, we’ve got over 40 years experience building websites. In the good ol’ days, when the web was new, it was fun to imagine a future full of screens and pixels and not a trace of paper to be found.

But something funny happened on the way to the all-digital future. Paper didn’t go away. In fact, to those of use who live and breathe the web, paper became more interesting, not less. More exotic, emotional, and real.

Don’t get us wrong, we know that the internet changed everything. But it was a mistake to think that just because this funky new medium was good at some things, that it would be good at everything.

Here at 8020, we’re embracing each medium for what it’s good at. The web is an unparalleled invention that allows far-flung people to find each other, have conversations, and sometimes, when you’re very lucky, form communities. But it’s ephemeral: Just try to find that cool website from last year, or even that interesting NY Times story from last week. The web self-mulches at an ever-increasing pace.

Print is difficult. It’s cumbersome and expensive. Highly impractical. But it’s also archival, beautiful, and emotive. Print can be intimate in a way the web never can. Print is part of real life. It’s there with you in the cafe, the restaurant, the bathroom. You can lose yourself in a story in print more than you can on a screen.

Having worked with editors and journalists who believe passionately in print as an art form, I have deep respect for what 8020 is trying to do. If they can find a way to make money and keep making money as web-savvy print publishers, then more power to them.