Cuts in U.S. media jobs rose by 88 percent in 2006, 17,809 positions slashed versus 9,453 in 2005, according to a new Challenger Gray & Christmas survey. Large traditional media organizations such as The New York Times Company and Time Inc. were cited as having to reduce staff in order to compensate for reduced revenue from print publications.
This year will likely be little different, with large, traditional media companies scrambling to beef up and modernize online media offerings in order to stay relevant and solvent. The idea of a newspaper publication going to online-only production is no longer a joke (though some old school ink-stained newspaper cats may laugh bitterly at the notion) and it's not outside the realm of possibility that 2007 will see a major U.S. newspaper do just that.
As eyeballs continue to drift away from paid print offerings to free online publications, as advertisers slowly but surely realize that the online medium is a much more efficient way to reach target markets, and as content publishers optimize the ways in which they can monetize their offerings, the "new media" or online media takes another step toward being the dominant force in how information and entertainment is transmitted in people's daily lives.
This process will play out over a number of years. Print publications will forever hold some role (nothing can ever replace the tangible feeling of reading a book in your favorite comfortable chair or ruffling through a newspaper on the subway) but that role will become a niche one, meeting the needs that can't be met by online media.
Online media will always have its bumps and roller coaster rides, of course. There will be layoffs and screaming of bubbles bursting and "the end of web 2.0" and market shifts and rumors of imminent collapse and advertising market crashes and other such talk. But we can safely say now that the dark years of 2001 – 2003 are over. They one day may be seen as akin to those early years of the automobile industry when cars were derided as the latest fad.
Online media ain't no fad.