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2002 TrendReport Q1-Q2
Welcome to "Predictions 2000" an
annual look at what's expected to make news in the coming year.
As always, we focus on the national business press: what we predict
the media will cover in 2000 and the context and background that will
help shape business news coverage.
What do we mean by context? Those of you familiar with the national
business press know that they are not driven by product announcements.
The national media focus on trends and issues, and more often than not,
how those trends and issues are going to affect the average American
consumer. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the context in which
stories are being reported. For this reason, we look at larger trends
and issues we expect to surface in the coming year not just the
gizmos and gadgets that might make the headlines.
We also alert you to what's going on in the media world itself. What
are reporters and editors talking about? How are they working within
the new media paradigm, where anyone and everyone can set up shop as
a reporter on the Internet, and public relations tactics force media
to change the way they operate?
David McMasters, ombudsman for the American Journalism Review, gives
a great example of this in his look ahead to 2000:
"Corporations are increasingly aggressive and inventive
in thwarting media scrutiny. Rather than go after the accuracy of the
reports, they launch tort-based lawsuits attacking the journalists and
their newsgathering practices. They launch massive public relations campaigns
to neutralize negative coverage. They bring their own videographers in
to record journalists' interviews of their executives."
This gives you an idea of what PR professionals will be up against.
Top Stories for 2000
- Look for another record-breaking year for
Major technology spin-offs, renewed interest in biotechnology start-ups,
action in the insurance sector, and surging venture-capital investments
are expected to combine to make 2000 another banner year for initial public
offerings. (From CNBC)
- The stock market
The temptation is to get ahead of the curve and be negative. But that's
not what the pundits are saying. From TheStreet.com: "The stock
market will put in another record year. Yes, the doomsayers are getting
bolder, and more and more investors are befuddled by the stock market's
uncanny ability to keep rising. Like the late 1950s, the investment community
is undergoing a revolution in terms of the risk it will tolerate. And
like the 1950s, we won't understand why this makes sense until we have
a few more years under our belt."
- ASP markets will take off
This really is a "next generation" sector, as small to mid-sized
companies move from the client-server or even small enterprise systems,
with their associated high purchase and maintenance costs, to Application
Service Providers, via the Web or company Intranet. "Big
things are expected from the ASP business, once some logjams are cleared.
The applications-hosting market is set to grow to $11.3 billion by 2003
from $933 million in 1999," according to Forrester Research,
a Cambridge, Mass., research firm. Forrester defines this market as including
ASPs, network service providers and independent software vendors. "(Eric
- Wireless, wireless, wireless
The biggest buzz this year will surround wireless applications: Internet
access on your cell phone, "smart" appliances, and more Newsweek's
international edition named the mobile phone its "European of the
Year," for "positioning the Old World
as a heavyweight in the New Economy." In its January 1 cover
story, Newsweek pointed to Europe's mobile phone industry as the world
leader in developing software for mobile Web browsing. The idea of putting
the Internet in the palm of your hand, via your phone, is about to explode
in Europe, and will eventually make its way to the U.S. One market research
company predicts that "more than half of all
European mobile users will be connected to the Internet by the end of
2001" all of this leading to the next trend listed
- The newest Internet consumer model: m-commerce
Mobile commerce This model goes beyond e-commerce, the buzzword
of 1999. With m-commerce, e-commerce goes on the road, creating vast new
markets for what consumers want and need. It's also seen as a new potentially
powerful tool for one-to-one marketing. Again, from international editions
of Newsweek: "From a seller's point of view,
mobile commerce is even niftier than old-fashioned e-commerce, because
it goes beyond ordering flowers or books or jeans. When the customer's
mobile, information itself-whether a bus schedule, a rugby score or directions
to the nearest pizza joint-gains value
[C]onsumers will personalize
their portals to receive only the kind of information they want, creating
a valuable little profile for an advertiser. Mobile operators can track
calling patterns. And eventually, with positioning technology, they'll
know where you are, too. Attention, ice-cream lovers: Hagen-Dazs may beam
you a half-off coupon if you're in the neighborhood. Before long, voice
could be free in exchange for a little targeted advertising."
It's not over yet There's a lot of hemming and hawing going on now
over the lack of Y2K disasters on New Year's Eve. But experts point out
that Y2K problems could continue to pop up at least through the first six
months of the year. As the calendar progresses, deadlines such as a new
fiscal year, billing cycles, etc., could prompt Y2K bugs out of hibernation.
The media will be watching for these developments all the while
reporting on people, businesses, and even whole countries that are hopping
mad they spent so much money on what they now say was a non-problem. We'll
- The DSL Revolution
We have a need
the need for speed. And digital subscriber lines
will fulfill that need. The DSL race is on, and the question is who has
access and who doesn't. Speed and efficiency will be the buzzwords for
Internet access, and DSL promises to be the newest and best solution.
- Security on the 'Net
Hackers here, hackers there, hackers hackers everywhere. The FBI now has
16 units dedicated to cybercrimes, and that number is expected to grow
throughout the year as more and more criminals turn their eyes toward
the 'Net. Cybercrime involves everything from corporate hacking to the
transition of more traditional crimes like drug-dealing and gambling
to the Web. This will continue to be a topic meriting major media coverage,
especially as computer criminals design new and more destructive ways
to tamper with the Internet. Also, the federal government is expected
to soon announce new encryption regulations, which will provide further
fodder for coverage.
- Presidential election and technology issues
Although social and fiscal issues will dominate the campaign trail throughout
the year, candidates are also likely to face questions about their views
on various technology issues. Everything from antitrust to encryption
exports will be fare game. Once the party candidates are determined,
look for the media to start pressuring them for their views on these
21st century topics.
Top Media Trends
- Expanded e-business coverage
There will be continued rollouts of new technology sections and increased
devotion to technology coverage across the board. This includes broadcast
as well as print.
Proof points: The New York Times ran
an ad in December 1999 touting its commitment to covering e-business;
Business Week planned on a couple of 36-page e-biz supplements
for 2000, but was overwhelmed with so much advertising that it
expanded those plans to nine, 100-plus page editions; Fast Company
published a 484-page issue, more like the Boston White Pages than
a New Economy 'zine.
As an editor at CFO magazine says, "E-business
is just business now; you can't separate 'em." Expect e-business
to continue to get increasing coverage, especially as more traditional
businesses from all sectors begin using the web as a sales and service
- Increased cynicism in the media
Reporters and editors are famous for building things up just to tear them
down again with relish. The media are swooning over dot-coms and
IPOs right now, but the love affair is bound to end at some point. Already
we're seeing journalist websites dedicated to sneering at the rhetoric
of the New Economy.
Proof points: Stock values aren't the
only thing inflated about dot.coms. Writes Stephen Mannes in Forbes: "Stumble
upon the term "visionary" and you want to slap somebody.
Only in an industry as full of itself as high tech could this word
mean 'a newly minted B-school grad who plans to offer a dubious
service on the Web, go public with an unprofitable company and
Portal: several items of conceivable interest
peeking out from a sea of ads;
Revolutionary: taking a somewhat
different tack from the company that did it first;
Scalable: may conceivably
continue to work if your needs grow modestly.
The message for PR people: Keep it real. Avoid cliches like the plague.
- Continued musical chairs at major media
High-tech reporters are hopping all over the place. Every major newspaper,
broadcast outlet, and news website is vying for topnotch tech writers,
meaning it's harder and harder to keep track of who's where. Plan on using
the Press Flash extensively to keep up with the staff changes.
Proof point: "It's an employees' market," says
the recruiter for the San Francisco Chronicle, the 13th-largest newspaper
in the United States, and which has suffered more than its share
of staff defections in the past 18 months.
- One word: Convergence
Everyone from long lead magazines to Internet search engines will get into
the daily news business. They may have their own staffs (Yahoo) or they
may subscribe to a content aggregator. No matter how they do it, traditional
media are scrambling to keep up with the Internet. This could mean more
opportunities for coverage, as PR folks may soon be pitching AOL and
Yahoo editors and reporters - whose audience can reach 20 million easily in
addition to the New York Times and other traditional sites.
Proof point: No less a traditional
media guru than Morley Safer of 60 Minutes sees this as a possibility: "I
think we are witnessing the last gasps of the three evening news
programs on the three traditional networks. I think that's over
- a network with its serious editors, its serious producers and
reporters telling you the important stories of the day in twenty-two
minutes. That was an important institution in this country for
a number of years. I think that's going to be gone before we hit
Proof point: The mother of
all convergence: AOL-Time Warner, announced earlier this
A profession in crisis
First, it's important understand that in 2000, the U.S. media will face
unprecedented pressure for radical reform. A series of events - The Los
Angeles Times fiasco with its revenue-sharing deal with the Staples Center;
the film on 60 Minutes' decision to cave on the tobacco story; the settlement
in the case for false Olympic bombing accusations against Richard Jewell;
CNN's false nerve gas story; and the Cincinnati Enquirer's $10 million
payment to Chiquita Brands for illegally tapping into corporate answering
machines - have left the press shaken and the public even more distrustful
of the fourth estate than ever.
In the fast-moving world of on-line journalism, credibility has been
hurt as practitioners like Matt Drudge and others sometimes fall short
of the standards adhered to by the mainstream, traditional press. Says
author and journalist David Halberstam: "The great change in media
is driven by technology and nobody really knows how to bring the traditional
restraints and strengths of journalism to the new technology. It's out
there the fragmentation of television, the twenty-four-hour news
cycle, the Internet, the decline of the editing function. What's declining,
for the moment at least, are standards the rise of a kind of culture
of allegation in journalism rather than in confirmation of stories. And
I think that's a real crisis in the profession."
Juries consistently punish the media with high awards in libel and invasion
of privacy cases. And from the media's point of view, the First Amendment
itself is under siege from all sides as communities as corporations continue
to try to censor and control what people say and how they say it.
It's all led to a call for radical reform of the media, with such voices
as Bill Moyers, Ralph Nader and even presidential candidate and Vice
President Al Gore calling for changes in the way media are owned and
operated in the United States. The proposed reforms range from legal
limits on advertising and increased airtime for public service to free
internet service for every home and anti-trust action to break up what
are seen as media monopolies. It adds up to a call to dismantle the media
current media structure and replace it with an amalgamation of national
networks, local stations, public-access TV, and independent community
radio stations, along with low-power television and radio stations.
If you would like to brainstorm the implications
of these predictions, please contact the Norman Birnbach at email@example.com.