David Carr discovers micro-niche media, but then falls into the zero-sum game trap

There are a lot of good things David Carr discovered during some recent vacation time. He re-thought the power of media created for ones personal joy. He spent some quality time with family and discovered some fun things one can do with photography that, in the past, would have been impossible without high priced equipment.

But then, Carr slumps into viewing his fun time through the prism that many media pundits do when they discover a new toy: If one medium is ascending, it must be at the expense of another medium. There is some need pundits have to always see the emergence of new media as a zero-sum-game in which all other media stand-still and ultimately die off — which is the premise of the joke in the post immediately preceeding this. Perhaps in college, these pundits skipped Marshall Mcluhan’s warnings against doing this.

Here’s how Carr expresses his notion that if one medium (in his case, personal media like organizing photography), increases, then another one decreases.:

“Is it any wonder that last year had the fewest number of new magazine start-ups in 16 years, according to Samir Husni, a professor at the University of Mississippi who keeps track of such things? Or that publicly traded newspaper companies have lost $23 billion in value in the last four years, according to Alan D. Mutter, a former newsman and currently a managing partner at Tapit Partners?

So, for clarification purposes: Having the means to organize photography and hang out more with ones family and friends in ways that involve media is NOT the reason newspapers and magazines took a hit last year.

Look, I think what David Carr did was great. I do it myself. I’m in the business of creating niche and narrow media and I’m a near zealot in evangelizing the importance of personal media created by and for the few. But the notion that this is what’s killing big media companies is ludicrous. Big media companies are contracting because they are just now understanding what’s taking place and haven’t convinced investors they know how to embrace the tools and approaches Carr outlines.

Chances are, when their employees take off time and start playing with new technology, they will.

This is not a zero-sum game.