Ten Points about the Evolving Media

FEBRUARY 26, 2010

On Feb. 26, 2010, Harris Diamond, chief executive officer of the Constituency Management Group of the Interpublic Group of Companies and chief executive officer of the public relations firm Weber Shandwick,  presented “The Evolving Media and Its Consequences for American Society,” which contained the following excerpts:

  • The practice of journalism is going to continue its evolution, but the business of journalism is going to continue having a revolution. Technology likely will destroy the current business model by which we get most of our information.
  • Journalism’s past and the impact it had on business and society wasn’t as glorious as we think, and the future is not going to be as bad as we fear.
  • The objective journalism we think we’re losing today is, in truth, a reality that only existed since the latter part of the 20th century. Prior to that, newspapers were very partisan and existed to promote the political views of their editors and party leaders. They also prospered because they gave their readers what they wanted: a tinge of radicalism, conservatism and a call to arms.
  • We talk about the Wild West atmosphere of the Internet and cable TV. Whether you like it or not, that is the way news events, public policies and markets are going to be covered in the future.
  • I think the mainstream media will struggle and likely wither. Online outlets will continue to increase, and while the cacophony will only grow louder, there will be good information out there. The information we need to make smart political and business choices will still be available; you will just have to be more diligent in finding it.
  • Until recently, corporate communication departments were largely passive, putting out press releases on topics such as quarterly results. Today’s smart businesses operate political-style war rooms that can operate around the clock when needed, because they have to. A company’s reputation and brand today are on the line every minute, and how a company reacts can determine whether a problem defines it.
  • There is no business model right now by which newspapers can continue in their present format.  Newspapers give away content for free online and yet are puzzled why people aren’t going to the newsstand and paying two bucks to buy it. There is no proof that businesses will advertise online and that it will make up for the loss of paid circulation. So newspapers are destroying themselves.
  • Looking ahead, I think there will be some newspapers that will cover only local news with a very small newsroom. On the other side, you will have one or two major circulation papers, such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but they won’t have a lot of foreign bureaus. There is some hope that philanthropists will fund not-for-profit news organizations. However, I don’t see newspapers surviving long-term.
  • If we get to the point that only the elites have news information, and the others don’t keep up with events because they won’t reach into their pockets for that buck to pay for news, only the elites will be in the decision-making process. That’s incredibly dangerous for our democracy.
  • If you want to be a journalist, that field is shrinking. But the field of media is expanding at a tremendous pace. There will be plenty of jobs in public relations, sports marketing, and sponsorship firms, which will supply information to the world.

Harris Diamond serves as CEO of the Constituency Management Group of the Interpublic Group of Companies.  The group includes IPG companies in the areas of public relations, public affairs, sports and entertainment marketing, corporate/brand identity and experiential marketing. Diamond is also chief executive officer of the public relations firm Weber Shandwick. Previously, he served as a political campaign consultant, working on U.S. gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns and advising foreign governments and political parties. He holds both MBA and law degrees and is a member of the New York State Bar.

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