Kriza medijev: Lekcija Jeffa Bezosa

Tiskani mediji se z vzponom digitalnih tehnologij, predvsem interneta, ter z usihanjem oglaševalskih prihodkov otepajo velikih težav in so v podobnem položaju kot svečarji ob izumu električne energije in žarnice. Niso povsem pred izumrtjem, pač pa se bo njihov obseg prodaje tiskanih izvodov v naslednjih letih skrčil le na desetino ali manj. Toda svečarjem je bilo bistveno težje spremeniti poslovni model kot pa je medijem. Mediji veliko lažje preidejo na nove tehnologije in začnejo ponujati obstoječe in nove vsebine v digitalni obliki, kot pa so se (objektivno) bili svečarji sposobni preleviti v industrijske obrate za proizvodnjo žarnic. Ena izmed lekcij, ki so jo okosteneli tiskani mediji dobili v zadnjem času, je nakup Washington Posta s strani Jeffa Bezosa, ustanovitelja Amazona.

Prva reakcija na Bezosov nakup Posta je bil šok med zaposlenimi. Post se je zadnja leta ubadal z velikimi izgubami, samo v letu 2012 je pridelal 54 mio dolarjev izgube. Kljub temu je ob razglasitvi prodaje časopisa Bezosu (za 250 mio dolarjev), med zaposlenimi na Postu zavladalo “vzdušje kot na pogrebu“.

There were plenty of shocked expressions at the company’s headquarters on Monday when members of the Graham family announced that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, had purchased the venerable publication for $250 million. Some employees said they went into the meeting expecting that the leadership had finally found a new headquarters, or at worst the company was in for another management shakeup…. Some of the people who spoke with The Verge, all of whom asked for anonymity, said there were plenty of “sad faces” following the meeting. “It was like a funeral,” said another. “People are scared.”

Some on staff weren’t sure about Bezos’ history as an employer or his attitude towards the news business. For those employees hoping for an owner like the Grahams, generally beloved by the staff, they will likely be disappointed…. Donald Graham… was famous for personally welcoming new hires and he could remember the name of every worker… the paper never had a round of layoffs…. His loyalty to employees may have cost him… seven consecutive years of revenue losses… cutting back on such things as maintaining the company’s cafeteria or the bathrooms… the building was getting run down….

Kor pravi Brad DeLong: zakaj bi bil nekdo pripravljen vreči stran 250 mio dolarjev, če ne misli resno s časopisom in zakaj bi se zaposleni zaradi tega sekirali, saj so si s tem podaljšali čas svoje službe in dobili možnost za dodatna sredstva?!

Seveda se Bezos, katerega podjetje Amazon sicer ne slovi kot najbolj prijazen delodajalec, nakupa Posta ni lotil iz filantropskih nagibov, pač pa da z medijem eksperimentira in ga transformira v smeri razvoja novih tehnologij. Bezosu ob ustanovitvi on-line prodaje prek Amazona, ko se je leta ubadal z velikimi izgubami, pa tudi pozneje, ko je lansiral prodajo elektronskih knjig na bralniku Kindle, številni niso verjeli, da mu bo uspelo. Vendar mu je. Prav lahko mu uspe tudi z medijem, torej da Post pretvori v učinkovit elektronski način podajanja informacij in oglaševanja. Kot pravi Bezos, z umiranjem tiska ne bo umrlo tudi novinarstvo:

Nine months ago, the Amazon founder gave German publication Berliner Zeitung a wide-ranging interview which touched on the state of journalism. As one might expect from the man selling Kindle tablets and e-readers, Bezos shared his belief that the printed page is dying, and that printed newspapers in particular would die out in the next twenty years. It might not be much condolence for a Post staffer lamenting the loss of the status quo, but Bezos also told the publication that regardless of what happens to print, he also believed that there would still be a place for journalism. “Journalism will not disappear.”

Kje so možnosti, ki jih Bezos lahko izkoristi s prevzemom Posta? Lydia de Pillis vidi številne možnosti “izkoriščanja” Posta – od oglaševalske platforme, identificiranja bralnih navad, založnika knjig do tega, da lahko Post v trenutku naredi preseli kot aplikacijo na Kindle:

1. The Post‘s website–which it’s fair to expect will be overhauled–could be a major new sales and advertising platform. “Newspaper publishing companies being agents of commerce is a major new opportunity in Bezos world,” Mutter says. “He invented e-commerce, you don’t think there’s going to be e-commerce on every page of The Washington Post?”

2. It’s good to know things about your customers. Especially your readers. Most media companies watch where their readers come from, but Amazon has taken audience tracking and predictive analytics to a whole different level in order to figure out what they might want to buy. Integrating a news service, just like a book discussion site, could provide even more data.

3. Content still matters, and so does reputation. Amazon’s biggest foray into content so far isn’t Business Insider. It’s Amazon Publishing, which has put out hundreds of books under several imprints. The problem is, it’s still hard to attract the best authors to an upstart internet banner, when they can still gain the imprimatur of a Farrar Straus & Giroux or a HarperCollins. “The early adopters of a straight-to-digital publishing model are not going to the the first-rate producers. Hillary Clinton is not going to publish her memoir with Amazon,” Mutter says. “There are all kinds of ways in which content will find its way to the digital marketplace, but it’s going to take a lot before the creme de la creme goes digital first. And frankly, that’s something that they have to work on.”

4. The future is video. Amazon Instant is a draw to the company’s Prime service, and The Washington Post could become a credible outlet for more original news content, which it’s already started producing.

5. Amazon owns the modern means of digital distribution. “He can just make The Washington Post the default app on every Kindle,” Mutter says. That would give the paper a visibility advantage few other news outlets can claim.

6. Amazon also owns the modern means of physical distribution. It’s tempting to think that because Bezos created an online juggernaut that has eviscerated legacy industries, he would quickly dispatch with the Post‘s print product. But Amazon is also probably the most efficient physical delivery system the world has seen, and print advertisements still generate a lot of the Post‘s revenue. He could put a print copy in every package, and have a circulation of millions.

Morda bo, kot pravi Josh Marshall, v tej zgodbi Bezosu pripadla kolateralna pozitivna vloga roparskega bandita, a naredi nekaj pozitivnega za javno dobro. Kot je denimo Andrewu Carnegieju, ki je ne glede na svoj slab sloves v ZDA ustanovil 2,500 knjižnic itd.:

Finally, we live in an era that many compare to the so-called Gilded Age of the late 19th century…. Andrew Carnegie, one of the three or four archetypal Gilded Age figures eventually funded the creation of over 2500 libraries, most of them in the US and many still servicing local communities…. What Bezos is doing isn’t philanthropy. He’s buying a for profit company and presumably aims to run it as a profit. But from a broader vantage point, it represents one of our Gilded Age robber barons taking his ample wealth and directing toward what is something like a public trust….

Na koncu se seveda odpre vprašanje, kaj bo nastalo oziroma ostalo slovenskih tiskanih medijev. Prekletstvo Slovenije je njena majhnost oziroma majhnost domačega trga ter seveda, da pri nas ni Amazonov, ki bi imeli sredstva in infrastrukturo, da iz hirajočih tiskanih medijev naredijo dobičkonosne digitalne posredovalnice informacij in prodajno-oglaševalske platforme. Toda ne glede na to, potencial tudi v Sloveniji obstaja. Preživeli bodo tisti prvi, pionirji nove dobe, ki bodo iz klasičnega časopisa naredili ažurni multimedij. Pri tem pa bo ključna vsebina. Torej ne samo posredovanje klasičnih informacij, kot jih poznajo sedaj, pač pa nadgradnja v prodajno-oglaševalske platforme.

Največji problem pri tem pa ne bo tehnologija ali pomanjkanje poslovnih idej in kapitala, pač pa mentaliteta samih novinarjev, ki prehoda v nov poslovni model ne bodo sposobni mentalno prežvečiti. Bojim se, da bodo reagirali kot novinarji Posta – v duhu Bastiatove satirične “peticije svečarjev”, ki so lobirali pri francoskem parlamentu, naj onemogoči sonce, ker predstavlja nelojalno konkurenco njihovim proizvodom.

%d bloggers like this: