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Web 2.0 Expo: Media Companies Confront Mortality

Representatives of traditional media companies who came to the Web 2.0 Expo 2007 hoping to hear how their companies fit into the evolving online landscape learned little that offered comfort at the Media 2.0 conference session led by Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li.

Apart from the acknowledgment that Google hadn't quite extended its dominance of search advertising into brand promotion -- though Google's agreement to acquire DoubleClick will change that -- the message for old-style media magnates was more or less change or die.

"Maybe mass media was just a temporary phenomenon," mused Rich Skrenta, co-founder and CEO of news aggregator Topix, noting that mass media arose as a consequence of controlled distribution and captive consumer attention. Today, of course, getting one's message out, or film or song, for that matter, doesn't require approval from distribution channel gatekeepers. And that's profoundly troubling to those who thrived under that model.

It's not hard to understand why panelists make pronouncements such as, "The mobile internet is going to put the final nail into print media," as Ted Shelton, founder and CEO of personal news aggregation site The Personal Bee, put it.

"Consumers have scarce attention and abundant choices," came a question and lament from a member of the audience who wanted to know how advertising would work in the new world order.

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