Week in Review, 11/16/08

The past week’s news,
unfortunately, brought more bad news for the publishing industry. The Kansas
City Star eliminated
about 50 jobsActive Interest Media, the South Bend Tribune and the Omaha World Herald 
also made staff cuts, and
the Raleigh News Observer even
eliminated delivery jobs.

What’s interesting is that the losses seem to be both among
major city papers and local ones, but local publications are being hit
especially hard. It's probably significant that the API finally, officially declared a crisis in newspapers.

Some media outlets,
however, are taking steps toward survival by branching out into other outlets.
purchased Ripple 6, a social media firm, and the Financial Times
revamped its Web site. . Look for more and more
publishing companies to be pushing people toward their online editions (even
the Old Gray Lady, the New York Times, is running “all the news that’s fit to
click” commercials for its Web site) and go multimedia. This is an industry
that’s getting hard-hit by a perfect storm of emerging technologies and a lousy
economy, but at the same time, it’s heartening to see that it refuses to
completely die.

The economy as a whole
continued to be a not-quite-cheery subject: we found out that unemployment
levels are
the same as after 9/11Foreclosures are up and the bailout isn't going as planned.

However, some industries
continued to boom, and they were all in the high-tech arena. Video-related news
was everywhere. Huge venture capital investments went to online video/video
publishing firms
Mobile Video  and Digitalsmithswhile the leader in online
video, YouTube, got an even bigger boost when it was announced that Obama’s
weekly “fireside chats,” traditionally offered via radio, would be
posted on
the site
. Google, meanwhile, announced it would enter the video chat arenaOld saw Blockbuster made a
move toward futuristic movie delivery with an announcement of a
set-top box for
movies on demand.

Cell phones/mobile devices
continue to expand like crazy, with Verizon Wireless getting ready to strike a
$500 million
deal with Microsoft for search services, Apple announcing better
gaming software
in the future of the iPhone, Electronic Arts
console and phone versions of Tiger Woods Golf and Opera launching a new mobile device browser.

Electronics retailers,
however, are going through a bumpy period, with Circuit City officially
for bankruptcy
  and Best Buy announcing a drop in salesTheir fortunes will
probably reverse themselves when the economy recovers – at least in the case of
Best Buy – but it’s still worth keeping an eye on.

Finally, the gaming industry was in the news as always. The
Blogging Stocks blog
pooh-poohed the idea of an EA/Disney merger, which was
championed by the Wall Street Journal. Sega's A&R content head
Darren Williams
slammed the Wii, comparing it to an expensive board game, strangely disrespectful considering the amount of Sega properties on Wii and DS – and a potential sign of a change of pace for Sega?

The bottom line this week:
Things are still bad, but there’s still pathways to fame and fortune,
especially if one embraces forward-thinking technology. Companies in danger of
becoming dinosaurs – traditional newspapers, Blockbuster – are learning this.
And the right piece of technology at the right time can even made you a
multimillionaire in this climate – just ask Rock Band creators Harmonix, who
will get a bonus of
more than $150 million each for developing their megahit

– Bonnie