Winds of Change – Newspaper Bankruptcies and Financial Woes – An Update


At the end of February Eye on FDA had a posting called Winds of Change – Newspaper Bankruptcies and Financial Woes – An Update – that outlined the startling number of financial failures among some of the nation's largest newspapers and newspaper chains.  Since 1933, no major newspaper had declared bankruptcy.  As of February, the New York Times faces serious debt burden, the Philadelphia papers filed for bankruptcy, as did the Journal Register chain and the Tribune Company.

Since then, there has been the closure of the Rocky Mountain News has closed, the Detroit Free Press goes to 3 days a week, and the Seattle Post Intelligencer is transforming to become solely and online experience – no paper.  And the San Francisco Chronicle,like the Seattle PI – a Hearst Corporation publication, is in danger of shutting down, leaving San Franscisco paperless.    The problems are cutting across geography, city and paper size, chains and individual papers.

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released its sixth report on The State of the News Media.  It is very telling, demonstrating the combined effects of a weakened economy and a migration to online sources.  The report is excellent, incredibly detailed and thorough and it is rich with charts that graphically demonstrate the sea change that is occurring – and here are a few:

Change in Audience 

First the change in audience – where it is clear that cable and Internet resources are gaining at the expense of other outlets.  Next, one can see the ad revenue follow the audience:

Change in Ad Spending

This is bad news on a number of fronts, and there are a number of consequence that have both breadth and depth.  But for our little corner of the world – pharmaceutical communications – it means this.  The venues for communication are changing rapidly, even more rapidly than would have otherwise happened due to a failed economy.  That means that now, more than ever, those who rely on communications to make specific audiences aware not only of new medicines, but the nuances thereof, have to be extremely adept at negotiating these new circumstances, which makes it all the more necessary that pharmaceutical companies re-gear and that FDA put on the fast track the enunciation of any policies regarding Web 2.0. 

As a brief example of how important it is to learn to negotiate social media for the purpose of marketing, when Eye on FDA had its podcast with the FDA this week on Web 2.0 and the pharmaceutical industry, there was a Web News Release, a Social Media Release and a Twitter carrying the news.  By 1 PM, the news of the podcast had been retweeted by over 40 people to 26,000 followers. 

The revolution has begun, and it began without us.

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