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Bust a wheel, spin the wheel: A love story

by: Eric B.

Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 13:07:43 PM EDT


The harsh realities of today's media market.

Today, we’ll hear official word of the demise of Project Thunderdome, one of the news industry’s highest-profile experiments in centralized, digital-first, mobile-friendly, new-news-partner content creation. Digital First Media CEO John Paton first announced the creation of what became a 50-plus person, New York City-based operation three years ago.

In the closing, and in other cuts at Digital First Media, we see the impact of unending high-single-digit loss in print advertising. The ongoing devastation in print is overwhelming even DFM’s relatively faster pace of digital innovation.

Probably none of you ever heard of Thunderdome. That's okay, Every time I'd ask about it, I'd get an explanation that left me feeling as if I didn't fully understand it, either. What I did understand made me think that it's the kind of innovation that should have taken place a decade ago in media companies and allowed to incubate and even produce failures. Instead, they tried it out and had to cut it because they just needed to cut costs. Now, according to the article, it appears as if the company that operated it, is going to break itself up into smaller pieces for sale. This probably includes the Detroit News, which if that happened might ironically save a few jobs in Detroit-area papers (everyone assumed that duplicate coverage roles would be done away with in "efficiencies."

There's a political point to be made in this, but I'll make it in another post. What this means is to you, dear reader, is a reminder that the hedge funds that pass for a substantial portion of media owners regard efforts to innovate purely as short-time investments. What that says about the future of a self-educating Republic is probably not good.

Eric B. :: Bust a wheel, spin the wheel: A love story
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