Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our Track Record on 2009 Predictions

A lot of organizations issue predictions without looking back to see what they got right and what they, um, didn't. We decided to take a look at the predictions we issued in Jan. 2009, Top 14+ Media Trends for 2009.

We did pretty well with those predictions:

  • We were right in saying we need a new term for newspaper once they stop printing on paper. However, our designated term "newssites" has not taken off.
  • We were (sadly) correct that a lot of print newspapers and magazines would shift to online-only in 2009. And we were right that some papers would rely more on charts, rankings and shorter articles to mimic online media while magazines would print thinner editions. And, as predicted, last year saw fewer magazine launches than prior years.
  • We saw more media layoffs in 2009, including cuts hitting online newsrooms. And we expected stringers and citizen journalists to contribute more content to mainstream media, which is a bit difficult to prove. Meanwhile, the New York Times got in trouble with its own ethics rules in working with some freelance reporters for potential and actual conflicts of interest. This seem to crop up with travel reporters for the Times' Sunday Travel section; that's not surprising because freelance travel writers often accept freebies to be able to afford to travel around the world. Accepting freebies, even for stories not published by the Times, goes against Times policy, and we think that's a bit of a mistake -- the Times isn't willing to offer these freelancers full-time positions yet expects them to live by the same rules as full-time Times staffers who get the benefit of a Times expense account and a Times' salary.
  • We were right that hyperlocal media continues to be important. But dozens of local suburban weekly newspapers also closed last year -- so as a strategy, a hyperlocal approach can not save papers from poor business decisions (i.e. debt load) of their parent companies.
  • Local TV did indeed hit a bumpy road, especially local affiliates of NBC -- not that we predicted the Leno experiment.
  • Twitter did become more prominent, with mainstream references to it.
  • Our prediction that people would start suffering from SNF (Social Networking Fatigue) -- did not happen in general last year. However, a few celebrities -- including Miley Cyrus and Ricky Gervais, who otherwise seem unlikely to share a point of view -- indeed seemed to be suffering from SNF, getting attention for quitting Twitter.
  • We were right that online reputation management would continue to be important. That will continue in 2010, too, though some companies still don't get it.
  • We got right some of the new features in Kindle 2.0, and were right that 2010 will be a bigger year for ebooks. Amazon sold a larger percentage of electronic books during the 2009 Christmas season than in the prior year.
  • We're pleased that the New York Times survived 2009. We were right that the Times would not sell the Boston Globe.
  • Rupert Murdoch did make more changes to the Wall St. Journal in 2009, but has not "tarted" it up. Yet.
  • As for the AP and changes to its model, pricing, etc., that's still too early to call. It did not happen in 2009, but it will come.

Now, if only the economy had been better...

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