Just as the quality media profession was about to roar due to finally finding the right business model for the digital age that combines subscription with advertising, it has been hit by a tsunami far greater than any it has previously experienced.
The shutdown of almost all industries and businesses has led to a fall of as much as 90% in advertising rates even as readership has increased.
The drastic plunge can potentially be even existential for especially independent outlets but also for giant media corporations that at the front might be loving the increased readership, but at the business end might be facing a crisis.
Government after government has announced huge giveaways with the United States giving Americans as much as $3,000.
In the United Kingdom, businesses directly affected by curfew measures, like pubs and clubs, are to be given £25,000 in no string grants if they are small businesses.
Many industries will need bailouts and are likely to get them. From the travel industry to car manufacturing.
Corona’s effects on the media industry however might not seem apparent because it can continue to run from home, although in a hampered way because information can often be social, and physical contact or gatherings is still the king of social in some cases.
Yet while the direct effects are not necessarily felt at a business level in that outlets can still keep running, the indirect effects are very much drastic because that golden combination of ads and subscriptions now has one half of it basically disappear, while the other half probably is flattened too as people simply are poorer and thus can’t quite afford quality news.
The dangers of that to our democracy, business life, and well being, are self evident for while some in our profession abuse and drastically so their position, without those that hold the candle from war zones to corrupt halls, our world would be much darker.
Governments however, like all of us, have been thrown in the mist of all this without much notice and have to fight on two fronts, both in managing the crisis in healthcare and the astonishing crisis in the economy.
On the healthcare front hopefully now treatment will be widespread, as Italy has finally decided, but on the economic front this might be a longer and a tougher crisis depending on how quickly bureaucrats move to both get the health situation under control and to get financial help out there as soon as possible.
On the latter part the scattered approach of focusing on specific directly hit industries might miss those that are also pretty much directly hit, but not obviously so.
A general approach on the other hand might give some help to all, but maybe more to those who don’t need it, and less to those who do.
This is obviously the problem we all are familiar with. As in communism, some bureaucrats up there simply don’t know, even if they were incorruptible, what exactly they should do in regards to who gets how much because that is just too much data that is often not available at all or where it is, that is not easy to analyze.
Meaning even with best efforts, a lot of industries will be affected in ways we can’t quite comprehend now, and will be more significantly affected the more this goes on.