Monday, July 20, 2009

An Industry Uses Social Media to Mourn Traditional Media

Today was an interesting day for those in the jewelry industry. One of the venerable old B2B magazines, Modern Jeweler, ceased operation. This comes on the heels of another venerable old brand, JCK, (my former magazine) coming within inches of suicide by annihilating its staff several months ago. These are magazines that each boast a 100+-year history. 

All afternoon, Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with the news. My own FB post alone received multiple replies almost immediately. Most agreed with my statement about being saddened by the news (and it is, indeed, incredibly sad). There were comments that ranged from "hating" what is happening to the industry, to horror that knowledgeable voices were being silenced, to "what will be left when we get through this recession?"

As someone who worked within this tight-knit industry for more than a decade, I can relate to the sentiments entirely. The fine jewelry industry, perhaps more than any other, resists change and values its old-school "relationship"-based history. However, as someone one step removed, and now very much immersed in analyzing the changing media as I strategize forward-thinking brand development and public relations/marketing plans, the contradiction between sentiment and reality strikes me as an astounding study in modern "communications"... for not just the jewelry industry, but for businesses, journalists and PR specialists in any field:

Several hours post announcement, Facebook and Twitter continue to buzz about the news that the industry has lost a respected traditional B2B magazine. At the same time, of the three remaining jewelry B2B pubs, only one has posted the news on their website (there is nothing to be found about it on the other two major jewelry publications' sites). Further, the one magazine that did post a story received no comments about it. 

And therein lies the irony. If ever there was a clear-cut example of how social media is reshaping the world of business--and sidelining traditional media that doesn't keep up--it is this event today. One of my FB friends expressed hope that the editors of the now-defunct magazine will maintain a social media presence. I second that... while the "traditional" publication may be gone, the vast knowledge of its editors need not be lost. Instead, take this news and the resulting reaction is a perfect example of how media (and business) is evolving. While change isn't ever comfortable, and no one is certain of what lies ahead, at least one positive seems assured: Whatever may come, the voices are not silenced and information is not stifled... I'd venture to say the voices are louder and clearer; and the information is spreading at a faster rate than ever before. Instead, the mode of communication is simply evolving.  

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