Jun 192012
Stagecoaches were dominant in the 19th Century but failed when technology changed

Once upon a time the local plumber got to work by bicycle, then he got a jalopy and now he shows up in a van or a hotted up ute. The plumber and his customers don’t care about the way his services are delivered.

A hundred years ago the retail industry was dominated by corner stores that customers could walk to, they received their deliveries by horse drawn carts and made deliveries on bicycles.

Then along came the motor car, which changed shopping habits and delivery methods.

Fifty years later the corner stores were a dying breed as they were replaced by supermarkets which customers could drive to and they took their deliveries by truck.

Today the retail industry is changing again, as the Internet changes shopping habits and society in ways similar to the motor car.

A similar pattern of change happened in the media sector; the evening paper died as commuters switched to cars and reading the Tribune on the tram or train home became less relevant.

Morning papers survived as people took deliveries to read over breakfast before driving to work.

At the same time radio and television became the dominant way most people got their news.

Even more the retail, the web has dramatically changed news distribution methods.

As the effects of Fairfax’s restructure sinks in, there are a group of people who don’t seem to want to accept reality – newsagents.

Mark Fletcher’s initial post about Fairfax’s restructure on his Australian Newsagency Blog attracted some harsh comments;

“Whilst the print media is arguably in decline I consider this post to be scare mongering……Fairfax will be here in print for years to come and to say or suggest that some days of the week will be or may be cut is pure conjecture at this point.”

” I am in semirural metropolitan Sydney. We have just added another 100 customers to our delivery run. Majority dont like reading their news online – old habits die hard. I hope that Fairfax dont abandon them. They like getting their newspapers in print.”

“Hi i will not pay to read online why it is all free, but will buy paper”

Focusing on print condemns those newsagents to the fate of the corner shop.

What is missed in the discussions about the future of the media is that medium is not message – people want relevant content delivered in the most convenient way.

This is true in every business. What we do is not really related to how we deliver the product, if we’re tied to one way of getting our services to a customer then we’re in trouble.

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