Just read Ben Thompson’s thinking on how digital is wreaking havoc with the traditional newspaper business, particularly our relationship to particular newspaper brands. Yes, a lot’s been written about this already, but Ben provides this really compelling argument based on his own news consumption:
The implication of my news consumption being dominated by the tall skinny part of the power curve is that those who can regularly appear there – the best of the best – are going to win the zero sum game for my attention. And, for that, they will be justly rewarded.
What then, though, of the tens of thousands of journalists who formerly filled the middle of the bell curve? More broadly – and this is the central challenge to society presented by the Internet – what then of the millions of others in all the other industries touched by the Internet who are perfectly average and thus, in an age where the best is only a click away, are simply not needed?
This is the angst that fills those in the news business, and society broadly. The reality of the Internet is that there is no more bell curve; power laws dominate, and the challenge of our time is figuring out what to do with a population distribution that is fundamentally misaligned with Internet economics.
It’s a pretty chilling outlook for anyone in the content business, let alone newspapers. As I said a few years ago, there’s no money in the middle. It’s increasingly brutally difficult to stay in the middle of any market or, as Ben points via both his post and his graphic (above), out if you’re competing with average content.
Somehow, your content–your business, your services, you–has to find someway to be standout and not be seen as an also-ran.
That’s the real battle that we’re all fighting, isn’t it?