Media value chains

Media value chains: Via Jeff, I saw this post by VC Tim Oren regarding “the possibility that one of the major value chains in modern society – media and advertising – will be rearranged (by the Internet, “people’s journalism,” et al), at least in part. That makes an economic analysis of the issue rather interesting.” Jeff amplifies what Tim says.

But let me disagree (agreeably, as Jeff once complimented me). When dissecting media into “content” and “transactions” you display why I share Doc Searls’ dislike of the term “content” (I couldn’t find the Doc reference I was looking for, but found this relevant post on “mediaism”). I agree that much of the information we have historically obtained through “old media” is much more accessible via new means. And I’m first in line for the blogging-new media-internet-technology-changes-everything band-wagon.

But while I think “old media” is forever changed, I believe one has to examine the various roles of specific “old media” before one dismisses entire categories as buggy whips (my metaphor, not theirs).

I live my life in new media. But my great passion (obviously) is magazines. And while I agree with Jeff/Tom that old media that is focused on the dissemination of “breaking news” will likely be displaced by new media, I must remind everyone that “news magazines” take up but a small chunk of shelf space on the consumer newsstand. Even in the business-to-business world, where I can make a fairly persuasive argument that much of the “content” in trade publications can be disseminated more efficiently electronically, I also know that magazines play a role in people’s lives that transcends content.

If I had more time (and may do this later), I would talk about the role of “experience” in how we encounter media or, better yet, I would quote Virginia Postrel in trying to argue that certain media bring with them (beyond the information they provide) a certain aesthetic value that “remakes” our consciousness.

I don’t know. All this makes me feel the need to go back and reread some Mcluhan (or, my favorite,Osmo Wiio — no way, if you Google “Osmo Wiio,” the rexblog shows up second) or perhaps Adam Smith.

Bottom line: media economics may be about bundles and values chains and transactions…but that’s not why someone displays a magazine on the coffee table.

bumper music: Chain Reaction (Diana Ross)



    The conversation between you and Jeff about content and experience dovetails very well with Tom Peters’ thoughts. Have you ever browsed one of his PowerPoint slides? Take a look at the Leadership 50… that’s good. One slide on experience:

    Experience: Rebel Lifestyle! “What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.” – Harley exec, quoted in Results-Based Leadership

    Good stuff.

  • hugh macleod

    I think both you and Jeff are right. There will be changes, and these are already changes taking place. How extreme these changes will ultimately be remains open for debate.

    The changes are already big enough to where people in non-executive media jobs are starting to feel the serious pinch.

    But like I said, it’s all debatable.