The publishing industry is faltering badly. VNU has just managed to refinance by the skin of its teeth and Incisive Media, a company I worked for when it was five people in an office in Soho, are in a similar position.
So, what has gone so wrong ? Well, inevitably the internet has had a huge impact and the recent decline in B2B advertising is equally damaging. But there are two further trends: information isn't worth what it once was since it's more commonly available; and the rise of video as a communication medium that hasn't been embraced by traditional publishers.
I comment on the fate of these media groups since I think a similar model would work well for Internet TV. Centralising costs such as production, technology and ad sales whilst producing multiple versions of the publications for highly targeted (and therefore valuable) audiences is a well established model.
So, if it has failed for traditional publishing, would it also fail for Internet TV ?
The reality is that all industries are cyclical, but the media industry has become a tumble dryer, requiring huge flexibility to succeed. The ability to re-invent the business before it goes into decline is the key and NewsCorp's vicious cutbacks at MySpace shows that no medium should be immune from rapid and decisive management action.
In the eighties and nineties fortunes were made from magazine publishing; in the coming decade similar fortunes will be made from internet TV, but I doubt if the same companies will be involved.