why some newspaper-tv marriages are ending in divorce

01/13/07 at 10:37 am | Posted in INQUIRER.net, Tech | Leave a comment

Erwin Oliva e-mailed me this link to an article from the Washington Post, “Newspaper-TV Marriage Shows Signs of Strain.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Television once was a coveted partner of newspapers. Executives talked of synergy between the two media, with newspaper reporters broadcasting their expertise on television, and TV stations providing a wider reach for the print brand. The high profit earned by TV stations, as much as 40 percent during years when the stations are fattened by political advertising, was seen as crucial to the bottom lines of newspaper companies.

In 2000, Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said: “From a business perspective, we will not achieve the financial success that can be ours without entering the world of television.”

But last year, when the Times exited its partnership with Discovery — Times reporters narrated cable TV documentaries on topics such as al-Qaeda — Sulzberger said the company saw the future of video in short form and on the Web, as opposed to long form and on television.

How true.

Times have changed, and what newspapers are now starting to realize as they fully embrace the Web is that they don’t really need the kind of videos that TV provides. I’ve talked about this in previous INQUIRER.net Infotech column pieces, most recently in “Of INQUIRER.net, Happy Slip and the future of TV.” Newspapers are now recognizing that what users want are short video clips and videos that are on the Web such as, you guessed it, YouTube and other online video services.

Moreover, here’s another reason for the failure of some of these marriages, as stated in the Washington Post article:

Even though TV stations still are profitable, they no longer enjoy the dominance they did in days before cable and the Internet. And in many places, the newspaper and television cultures never meshed.

Read the whole article, because it gives a lot of insight on the trends we will see in online journalism (which, contrary to what some people might think, is not a new thing in the Philippines). We are living in an age where we can shoot videos and take photos using our mobile phones, and upload these on the Web for use with articles. This is far cheaper and speedier than the old way of having a TV reporter, camera crew, producer and editor create a short segment on television. And you can already shoot the video with the Web in mind, with an understanding of how it will complement the other elements in your multimedia story.

This is what many in Old Media still don’t realize, that we have to create content for the Web, instead of just uploading shovelware. In video game terms, this is like creating lazy ports of games from one platform to another.

Also, remember that in this digital age, your content has to be available on different platforms and devices, such as mobile phones. Last night Erwin, Joel Pinaroc (our fellow tech journalist from the Manila Bulletin) and I were again talking about why we don’t use our phones for 3G that much, and of course one of the main reasons is that for now, we don’t really see any compelling 3G mobile content.

As I keep saying, why the hell would I want to watch “Eat Bulaga” or “Wowowee” on my 3G phone? Why should I pay for this 3G service when I could watch these shows on TV — and, in the first place, I don’t even want to watch them on TV. No offense to those who like those shows, but so far I’ve yet to find a 3G user who’s excited to watch shovelware TV shows on their phones.

So why are these content providers doing this? Probably because it’s so much easier and cheaper just to convert their existing videos instead of creating new content.

In the end, a saying keeps echoing in my mind: “Be careful what you wish for.”

And, for some reason, a song keeps playing: “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”

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