A New Look at Media Convergence
A number of recent articles address the next stage of this industry’s future. The question has been asked: what is next—consolidation, additional change, an entirely new model? For what it’s worth, here is my view.
If you look to the definition of consolidation, you will note the critical word strengthening being used. In some cases, consolidation does mean a strengthening, the ability to press more client weight than before. Strengthening also implies the ability for the print provider to survive the many severe economic ups and downs that this industry seems to be built upon currently. This strengthening also means offering more diverse products and services, often provided at a lower cost due to a reduction in the workforce—a by-product of the consolidation process.
But consolidation, in my opinion, is a short-term solution, and one that does not provide the end game of recurring income. Consolidation does not really fully prepare the consolidator for the future, but fulfills only 50 percent of the need. Consolidation, to use a sporting metaphor, is like having an offense but no defense, having great hitters but no great pitchers. Consolidation works and provides the base for more change, but consolidation is not the complete solution. It cannot by itself provide the end game of profit advocacy and expanded income, nor can it solely provide a more positive future for our industry.
Consolidation may also mean “a statutory combination of two or more corporations,” but consolidation does not assure the joining of ideas, concurrence of opinions, or perhaps the most important definition (which I adapt from one offered to define biological convergence), “a similarity of structure in unrelated/related businesses that is caused by similar economic pressures.”
If consolidation is not the answer, then perhaps convergence is a better solution. Convergence—not only of print providers but also of and to the interrelated industries and their needs—is the future of this industry. Proof that print is a needed, valued, and essential part of the future of communication must be part of the process of consolidation, and its foundation must be based on convergence.