the experimental blog

The message is the message

A response to @DaveatNorth blog post found here:

The quotation, “The medium is the message” is killing the newspaper industry. Well, the ignorance of the statement is allowing newspaper owners to kill their industry. It allows otherwise right-minded, smart people to draw the following conclusion:

“Consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either…”

‘Consumers’ only ever wanted ‘content’ in the first place…otherwise they would not be engaging, reading, watching, listening. Its like saying, “The plate is the dinner.” Its just wrong and leads to confusion.

The problem is, many times the people making financial and business decisions for newspapers are often people who are not educated/aware enough to know the DIFFERENCE between good journalism and bad journalism.

Enter the internet.

Newspaper owners saw all the money in the tech industry and assumed they could have some of that pie, instead of *integrating the internet into their other communication channels* they fired all the editors! Just look at all the newsroom staff cuts in the early 2000s for evidence.

When a business person cannot tell or doesn’t care about the difference between a well edited, well written locally focused newspaper and some idiots blog, then they will naturally conclude that they can cut costs by cutting editorial/newsroom staff.

This is the problem in a nutshell…the decision makers can’t tell the difference between content people would want and useless content. They lost touch with their USER…so everything looks like its ‘just content.’

The Shannon-Weaver Model of communications brings clarity. It was made for wireline signal communications but its simplicity allows it to be applied to any communications event.

Its known as the SMCR model.


In the 60+ years since Claude Shannon published his model while working for Bell Labs, many comm theorists have applied his model (which is much more technical than the basica S-M-C-R description) to non-technical communications events.

Berlo’s Model integrates Anthropology and Psychology ideas into the basic SMCR nicely.

As for McLuhan…well, I feel the same way about him as I do a band like Creed. I hate what they do to music and they disrespect music lovers everywhere with their wholly inaccurate interpretation of a genre. I hate it MORE that they became popular and *gasp* influential to other artists. I change the radio immediately if Creed comes on the radio.

Yes, I’m hating a bit here. I used to be a Communications teacher, journalist, and writer. I’ve had to deal with the mistaken inferences from McLuhan’s infamous “The medium is the message” turd for a long time.

Bottom line, newspapers have PLENTY of means to make enough to cover expenses, pay employees, save, and re-invest. Newspaper owners need to get a realistic idea of what a profitable newspaper looks like.


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