Gannett calls out Twitter and Tweeple; but will Gannett survive?

Irony is my favorite humor, and I admit this bias. I found this morning’s Gannett article from Charles Raasch (@craash) VERY ironic. See if you think so too…

Charles wrote “Twidiots that Twuffle the time away”.  The core of the article is a list of 10 terms for Twitter users and their tweets. None are complimentary, most indicating a lack of thought or value. In any media we need to be careful who we listen to, and even more thoughtful about who we believe. That’s the same in person, online, in the news, books or other venues.

Here are 3 of the Twitter terms Charles shared:

• Twidiot: A poster of non sequiturs or racist, sexist comments – anything to get a rise.
• Twuff: The pointless babble referenced earlier.
• Twuffler: A poster of pointless babble – a la, “I like pie.”

Big deal, a reporter needed to fill space, and covering a hot topic like Twitter gets more eyeballs, right? At the end of the article that questions the value of Twitter, Craig asked this question:

“It’s proven its popularity, but can Twitter survive as a successful business model in five years?”

This made me think about recent growth in many of the media we use each day.

Newspapers have been in a long term decline, well before the internet. The number of bankruptcies in the past 2 years is staggering. According to Nielsen:

“Bankruptcies, declining readership, falling ad dollars and the suburbanization of America have all contributed to the slow death of the great American newspaper. Hope for a resurgence of the printed newspaper seems like a pipe dream. “

According to Neilsen, one of the ‘great hopes’ for the newspaper is covering late breaking news. But, always a day behind.  TV and radio cover news at their next news break. Many learned of Michael Jackson’s death or the Haiti earthquake in minutes via social media like Twitter and Facebook. That speed advantage will be hard for newspapers to beat.

In contrast, Twitter is experiencing enormous growth. From 2008-2009, Twitter grew OVER 1300%, and the other 4 social media that Nielsen listed grew 170% to 240% in that same period. Yes, many do tweet that they want coffee or have a cold. You can also find motivational and inspiring quotes, fabulous insights and new information you wouldn’t find as easily elsewhere. More importantly, you can make real connections with people who share similar interests from all across our world.

Unlike newspapers, TV and radio; Twitter, Facebook and Blog authors can publish what THEY have to say, unedited.  They have the freedom to express themselves, rather than get an editorial assignment, a deadline, a set amount of space to fill, and the inevitable red-lining to remove what doesn’t fit the company’s editorial agenda. Yes, some posts are a swing and a miss. Others are a true work of art because the author doesn’t have to compromise to get published. Like Nike; they Just Do It.

Now, here is full disclosure and our bias: iCreaTech we help organizations find the best tools to connect with their customers and prospects. Regardless of the medium ~ print, mail, web, social media and more. While we all need to consider how the new tools will best meet the needs, not every customer has embraced ‘Web 2.0’. But, ignore it at your own risk. And yes, there will be something after ‘Social Media’. No one knows what, yet. For a great 3 minute overview, watch this amazing, fact based video (which we did not write).

So, the staggering Goliath that is Gannett, takes a swipe at Twitter. Makes fun of the users and calls into question whether Twitter and their business model will survive five more years! If your competitor had a growth chart like this, you would be wise to take action as well. Twitter will survive, unless they explode due to excessive growth. It’s happened before to other high growth, rock star firms.

A much better question is:

Will Gannett survive five more years?

The model of acquiring smaller companies and crushing out any redundancy (mainly people, both employees and vendors) is not viable long term because it creates no real, sustainable value. Worse yet, Gannett is in a collapsing industry. It’s the perfect storm. I hope the news ‘paper’ industry can understand that they are a news organization, the ‘paper’ was just the medium to provide that news. Know many buggy whip makers?

Get on the bus, or at least out of the way. But, please don’t get under the wheels. People and their families depend on the decisions we all make.

Twidiot? or Twenius?

What do you think about that?

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4 Responses to “Gannett calls out Twitter and Tweeple; but will Gannett survive?”

  • I have been a user of Twitter since late 2006 and have watched it grow from a place for geeks to chat into a tool that is used for a staggering range of things. In the early days there were frequent problems but these issues are a rarity these days and each time something happens they work imediately to prevent a future repeat.

    Could Twitter explode due to growth? Having survived this long I doubt it. In the short term they will continue to prosper. Their long term status can only be guessed. Newspapers are going the way of cassette tapes and if they can’t find a way to work with modern technology, the companies will soon only be read about in history books. As technology moves forward, new devices will change the way we communicate and it is up to Twitter to embrace and make use of future changes if they are to survive.

    Unfortunately for Gannett, they are busy trying to hold on to a ship that has already sunk. The advertising space that they sell is not worth the paper it is printed on and their last customers are dying of old age. Newspapers are still trying to fight the internet, which itself is becoming an old medium. Kids are graduating from school who have never existed without the web. I haven’t bought a newspaper since the ’90s. I scan through listings publications such as the City Pages to find out what bands are playing locally but even that is becoming pointless as more venues come online.

    The future of newspapers is the same as what they print: yesterday’s news.

  • Excellent Points Adrian! If the newspapers would have percieved themselves in the news & information business, they would have invested in radio & TV as they became viable ways to distribute the stories & other content they were already developing for the paper. Many do seem to finally ‘get it’ and are going with online versions.

    My favorite being the papers that want to charge to read their news. I had heard from friends that 80-90% of a newspapers revenue comes from ads, and the reason they would charge is to validate the number of readers. No longer a valid reason when you can track page hits, and how long people stay on pages and the site!

  • Nice post. Good info for anyone who’s interested in Twitter, old or new.

  • Michael was a exceptional guy. I am sad that he is gone and his music and his wonderful character. He changed pop culture and the world eternally! So he is not dead.

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