Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Murdoch: Tech is making publishers less relevant

Wired Magazine has just published an interesting article on News Corp's purchase of MySpace, using it as an analogy to discuss what's going on in the battle of new vs. old media. In it, Murdoch specifically states that my job is becoming less important: "Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control."

He's right. But also wrong.

Technology -- especially the Internet -- is empowering consumers by enhancing choice and lowering distribution costs. This gives rise to the "long tail" effect where the providers of content can no longer afford to focus on a handful of mass marketed hits, but instead must provide a greater diversity that caters to more targeted interests.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing for publishing, though. Contrary to what Murdoch implies, consumers have always had a say about what goes on in publishing via the marketplace; even in the days of mass marketing, publishers that were unable to meet their demands paid a financial price. But as technology changes the way the game is played, it enables savvy publishers who tap into hitherto unexplored markets to do quite well for themselves. Technology and the "long tail" are just as empowering for publishers as they are for our readers.

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