The Sciences

Crumbling media

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitMar 27, 2009 2:00 PM


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Recently, the science journal Nature had an article about the decline of mainstream media for science journalism. The Columbia Journal Review picked up on that, and posted an interesting article about ti themselves. It features a discussion of our very own Hive Overmind, Discover Magazine blogs, including statements by Carl Zimmer, who writes The Loom. I actually don't have too much to add here, mostly because I've said it before. Print media is dying, and people are analyzing it to death, but the cause is clear: for the most part, old media simply doesn't get new media. They don't understand it. They tried to take their content and just dump it online, but that didn't work, and it took them too long to figure out why. Seed magazine understood it and created ScienceBlogs, and our own Discover Magazine figured it out as well. I love reading magazines and newspapers, but you know what? Things change. I bet there are lots of folks who miss elevator operators and phones with real dials, too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being flippant here. In this case there is a major economic impact as well as major impacts on people's lives. But just because something is pervasive and liked doesn't mean it has to or will last forever. The Internet changed things suddenly and catastrophically (by some viewpoints), and this is a non-reversible process. There was plenty of time to adapt, to evolve, but it was too hard for too many big media to do it, but easy enough for individuals. That's why so many scientists blog now. Print media is the first, but it won't be the last. Movies and radio are still trying to fight new media instead of embrace it, and their day is coming too. That's not a threat. That is the sound of inevitability.

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