President-elect Obama has announced an ambitious plan to build up the U.S.’ Internet infrastructure as part of his proposed economic stimulus package. A cornerstone of his agenda is promoting universal, affordable high-speed Internet. During his campaign, Obama spoke about the transformative power of the Internet to improve Americans’ quality of life. He mentioned that Internet could, among other things, reduce health care costs, create jobs and make it easier for citizens to participate in government decision-making.
“Upgrading the Internet is a particularly smart kind of stimulus, one that would spread knowledge, promote entrepreneurship and make this country more competitive globally,” New York Times says in an editorial.
The United States now ranks 15th in the world in access to high-speed Internet connections. Barack Obama, who had notable success with online fund-raising and voter turnout, aims to restore America’s role as world’s Internet leader. As NYT says, it could be an important part of Obama’s presidential legacy.
Switching to Videojournalists and cutting salaries
VJs, or videojournalists, can be recession-proof reporters. And being underpaid increase their survival chances. See what is doing Gannett’s WUSA-TV in Washington DC. They are replacing its crews with videojournalists, one-man-bands who will shoot, edit, write and report. And that’s not all: VJs will be paid 30 to 50 percent less than traditional reporters.
WUSA is the first network-affiliated major market station to make the switch.
This move will be watched very closely by the Media industry, which is under unprecedented financial pressure.
President of WUSA has expressed his belief that “this will raise both the quality and quantity of the product we are putting out on TV and on the Internet.”
In other cases, like KRON and WKRN, the VJ experiment weren’t success stories.
Warning: Transition into new digital infrastructures or die
Many analysts agree that Tribune’s downfall into bankruptcy is an industry warning: Undertaking a dramatic digital reinvention is the only solution. Media companies desperately need to transition into new infrastructures to survive.
Otherwise the path might be clear: file for bankruptcy, sell of the assets and a small group of the newspaper’s best former employees regroup in a startup, designed from the ground up a low-cost digital operation with a small print extension.
In other words, create new multiplatform content businesses that set those properties apart from their competitors or die.
(On December 8 Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. They explained they did so to restructure its debt.
“Over the last year, we have made significant progress internally on transitioning Tribune into an entrepreneurial company that pursues innovation and stronger ways of serving our customers,” they said.)