An unholy union is ending painfully and publicly with CNN losing 90% of its audience.
The media landscape has changed drastically over the past 10 years; still more drastically in the 20 years before that. It is easy for us to forget in the modern age that the printing press was invented practically yesterday. Written language was invented only just before that.
Humankind is a species only a handful of generations off the farm, as it were, and a couple more handfuls of generations from caves and nomadic gathering. Lately, things have been moving a bit…faster.
Those of us old enough to remember a time Before Internet have a distinct before and after frame of reference. Besides paper maps, playing Oregon Trail and the Dewey Decimal System, we can remember a time when newspapers and the nightly news were the all and all.
If you wanted to be informed in 1994, a subscription to the New York Times or the Washington Post could be delivered anywhere in the U.S., and probably the world. News consumers had a whole host of magazines, newspapers, periodicals and publications from which to choose.
The nightly local news was the nightly local news; the local newspaper was the same.
After Internet, everything changed. Legacy media outlets like the New York Times at first struggled mightily with how to monetize online content, especially as demand for online content seemed likely to grow larger than the demand for traditional printed media.
Online paywalls went up, sales and market shares for traditional media outlets went down- way down. At some point, they all started merging, consolidating. Today, a scant handful of corporate media conglomerates own all the major news outlets. Local news outlets became subsidiaries, new affiliates; partners at best, satellites at worst.
With this unified corporate model, and with a market more and more saturated with choices for news consumers, legacy media outlets struggled to find their footing. A paywall was all well and good, but plenty of other, newer outlets were reporting and spreading news around, too. If a news consumer encountered a story behind a paywall, one google search could reveal hundreds of other sources available instantly for…