1. Hurricane Katrina was, according to most accounts, a 400-year storm. You can agree or disagree with that assessment (I tend to disagree), but you should at least agree with this: A 400-year storm should come around about once every 400 years.
In other words, a 400-year storm is rare. You won’t see many, if any, during your lifetime.
2. Currently, what is happening to the newspaper industry seems rare.
The newspaper has been around for some time, with the modern version tracing its lineage back to the Penny Press era of the early 1800s. From then until now, given some ups and downs, the newspaper industry has done okay. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver, for instance, was around for 150 years – before it went out of business in February 2009. The Christian Science Monitor, for instance, published a print edition for over a century — until, in April 2009, its print edition went away.
There is a tendency, I think, to see the circumstances now threatening the newspaper industry as a sort of rare, once-in-a-lifetime, perfect storm. If newspapers can weather this storm, if they can adapt and adopt new and more efficient business models — like the Associated Press is trying to do, like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is trying to do — then all will be well.
Is this just a transition stage? Will those newspapers that manage to survive emerge into a new and profitable period of stability?
Maybe digital media is not really the new normal. Maybe transition is the new normal.
Maybe whatever business model succeeds in the short term will fail in the long term — and maybe that long term is increasingly less long.
Maybe the perfect storm now comes faster than the perfect levee can be built.
3. Once there was MySpace; now there is Facebook.
Once there was Yahoo; now there is Google.
Once there some politicians; now there are some other politicians.
This, too, shall pass.