There seems to be no end these days to the bloviation about the past, present and future of the newspaper business (yes, I do my share). Three good examples today, of varying quality:
Maybe the revolution won't be so bad. Maybe in the next few years (or rather, months, at the current rate) we'll all come to realize the enormous value of having established editorial voices in the community and a semblance of cohesiveness to this madcap storyline, and maybe we'll come to appreciate the true value of pro journalism and journalists alike, in whatever medium they appear on.
The playing field changed and newspapers arrogantly stood on their laurels and reminded us all that they are in fact meaningful and that we really ought to remember to read them. Don’t be mad at the geeks, be mad at the newspapers.
"What's next?" is a decade of experimentation, opportunity and chaos. Some of the funding sources may appear exotic, but most of the “successful” business models (in this instance, "successful" means capable of sustaining a journalistic enterprise) from the coming decade will be little more than smart outfits that figure out how to accomplish their mission while keeping their costs down. Doing this will require a great deal of cooperation, plus a willingness to enter into relationships that our Old Media ancestors wouldn't consider.
Old Media executives don't recognize many of these alternatives as valid, but that's likely because they're looking at media business models from the perspective of “What can save my company?” But that's not the question we're asking.
And finally, I think we can safely expect that this diverse, open-source, networked-media future is going to be radically reorganized within the decade by the rise of information technologies that many news-media competitors will not be able to replicate. It is possible, if not likely, that many of the “successes” of 2012 will be swept away before 2020.
So when people ask me, “What should I do to prepare for the future?” I suggest they just wrap their brains around this idea: The current meltdown is just a warm-up act.