Ethan Zuckerman wrote a thoughtful and provocative post entitled “Is ad-supported journalism viable in a pay-for-performance age?“. He worries:
If I’m right and print advertising costs are fundamentally irrational, then it’s possible that the way we’ve built media in the United States can’t survive a transition to a more rational market.
The article justifies and elaborates this concern. It’s sobering stuff: we may be experiencing yet another bubble bursting, this time in the valuation of advertising. But, as Zuckerman points out, the stakes are huge, since practically the entire media business relies on an ad-supported model. If this model is broken, then journalism as we know it is truly in a fight for its life.
I’m no fan of the ad-supported model, but I’ve accepted it as a necessary evil to sustain the media industry. Now it sounds like the need to come up with alternative models may be more urgent than I imagined.