Opinion and Editorial

GANAHL ON MEDIA: Make Google Fix It

What’s a column on media without media predictions for the upcoming year? Right now everybody is in the prediction business. A Google search for ‘2010 media predictions’ resulted in over 9 million hits in just 0.22 seconds, really! And why be bashful, because who keeps score anyway? Twelve months from now, I’ll be lucky to find this column, much less measure its predictive value! So, here’s my 2010 media predictions.

1. Make Google Fix It: Yes, you read it right…Make Google Fix It. This year has been abysmal in almost every way for almost every media. Earlier columns document a media industry suffering from its largest-ever advertising revenue decline, unimaginable industry job losses, and stunted collegiate career aspirations. The solution? Make Google Fix It.

Certainly President Obama and his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are no shrinking violets in the face of economic meltdowns. Look at their treatment of the automobile industry: forced dealership closures, forced bankruptcies, forced management changes, forced changes in union contracts: need I go on? Google is best positioned among the media titans for this type of operation: it’s profitable, it’s digital, it’s responsive and it has a corporate jet big enough to round up the industry’s limping moguls and dictate a solution.
Wish I could be a fly on the wall when Eric, Sergey and Larry dress down Chicago’s Sam Zell, New York’s Aurthur Sulzberger and MySpace’s Rupert Murdoch!

2. Apple and AP Launch iAP: a digital news app: This seems such a no brainer, I’m almost embarrassed to publish it under my byline! Steve Jobs, a.k.a. M3, or ‘micro-payment-music mogul’ redeemed Shawn Fanning’s peer-to-peer music sharing model (yeah Boston’s Northeastern University!), images-2pioneered a business model that distributes digital music files, and brought peace to the music industry’s many competing participants…all for 99 cents a song! Oh, and I almost forgot…iTunes controls almost 70% of the industry’s download business!

AP, a non-profit news organization owned by its 1,500 daily newspaper members, argues it’s the world’s largest news organization with almost 5,000 journalists. It distributes worldwide multi-platform content through its global news bureaus network to 1,700 newspapers and over 5,000 radio and television stations. AP CEO Thomas Curley was weaned on legacy media having conducted the initial feasibility study for USA Today founder Al Neutharth.

So what’s the hook? Easy…AP dominates global content creation, and Apple dominates global digital distribution. As an added bonus, Shawn Fanning gets the job as the joint venture’s VP of Technological Innovation!

3. AP Bets Content Is King And Announces IPO: Nearly 170 years ago, The Associated Press launched as a cooperative news service that merged a network of daring overland riders, high-speed ponies, and telegraph wires to bring news about the Mexican War 700 miles to four New York City newspapers. Today, it boasts of the world’s largest newsroom with almost 5,000 journalists that distribute content across all platforms to 1,700 newspapers and more than 5,000 radio and television stations.images

Impressive enough, but its business model is threatened by the free digital distribution of content through Internet aggregators such as Google, AOL, Yahoo! and millions of other sites. In announcing its IPO, AP CEO Thomas Curley may say, “The market is stabilizing and the Street’s major investment houses seem poised to rebound. We are a content business, like Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal. This model works for them, and we think it will work for AP.” Be careful about holding this stock for the long haul. I rate it as a buy and a quick sell!

4. While Content Is Free It’ll Be Harder To Find: The major content producers cling to, and whine about their outdated business model through 2010. As they watch revenues decline (or stagnate at best) they hide content from search engines or behind pay walls. Murdoch’s threat to with hold content from Google reported in Newsweek offers a hint of what will come. Don’t worry, Wikipedia gets in the daily news business and launches the Wiki Daily!

5. Michelle Obama Premieres Talk Show On Oprah Channel: In 2010 Michelle grows weary of the ‘White House Mom’ dream. Inspired by Hillary Clinton’s life-after-the-White-House-Mom model,

Photo Courtesy of The White House
Photo Courtesy of The White House

Michelle partners with Oprah on a cable talk show that goes head to head against ABC’s The View. The Clinton’s and the Obama’s battle to re-capture the White House! “If it worked for the Bush pop and son team, it will work for our husband and wife team,” Michelle may challenge.

6. Comcast Partners With Philadelphia’s Tierney In Newspaper Venture: Still pumped from his NBC purchase, tri-athlete and Comcast CEO Michael Roberts grows weary and suspicious of the New York media elite (after all he’s a Philadelphia cheese steak kind of guy!). Enamored by media impresario and Philadelphia Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney’s plea to ‘keep it at home,’ Roberts buys 52% of the Inquirer. “After all, I love the PI’s sports section,” Roberts may claim.

7. !!GABANG!! Challenges Social Media Giants: Fearing irrelevance, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Jerry Yang launch !!GABANG!!, a social media site for angst-ridden Baby Boomers.

Photo: Doug Wilson/Corbis
Photo: Doug Wilson/Corbis

“Hey we believe in this thing,” Ballmer may yell, “that’s why we have four…count them…four exclamation marks! Our names are riding on this!’ !!GABANG!! cleverly (!) uses two letters from each of the founder’s last name. It’s rumored Microsoft founder Paul Allen is composing !!GABANG!!’s musical jingle.

8. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Share Nobel Peace Prize: Sweden’s Nobel Foundation awarded this year’s Nobel Peace to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for their contributions to Iran’s regime change. The Nobel Foundation praised the social media sites for their work in mobilization and communication. “We’re sorry Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cancelled his personal accounts with the sites,” a foundation spokesperson may explain, “but in the long run he’ll renew, he was an avid Twitterer!”

9. Dreamers Rule and Innovation Rocks The Next Decade: Dream-driven young people have fueled this media revolution. Berners-Lee, Gates, Allen, Jobs, Wozniak, Case, Dell, Waitt, Andreesen, Bezos, Omidyar, Fanning, Brin, Page, Anderson, DeWolf, Zuckerberg, Hughes, Hurley, Chen, Karim and thousands of others rocked our status quo. Armed with, and bound by nothing these dreamers changed our world. The Next Decade belongs to them and those like them. Dreamers Rule!

Dr. Richard Ganahl is a professor in mass communications at Bloomsburg University, PA. His column GANAHL ON MEDIA is an occasional column about media issues. Ganahl is a former media manager, publisher, entrepreneur and consultant. He is co-editor with Dr. Louisa Ha of the award-winning Webcasting Worldwide (2007), and the founding faculty advisor of BU Now, a multi-media, student-managed media blog site.