Friday, August 6, 2010

TNM takes a trip to the Emerald City

I was a bit under the weather yesterday, one of those nasty summer colds. But before going to bed to rest I read a few articles by some of the thought leaders of our industry. I think they influenced my dreams.

I went to bed and covered up, feeling a bit of a chill. My body ached and it was clear I was not well. I slowly started to fall asleep as my dog started to lick my face, sad about my condition. Then the room started to spin around.

When I awoke I was surrounded by a bunch of munchkins. They proclaimed me a hero for crashing a house on their former publisher. (It was nice not being immediately thrown in jail.)

The munchkins proclaimed me the new head of their media company, but I had no idea what to do, being in such a foreign land. One of the munchkins said I should travel to the Emerald City to talk to the great Wizard of Oz -- surely he would have all the answers I sought.

Off I went, and to make a long story short, I picked up a couple of strange looking employees along the way. When I arrived in the Emerald City I requested that I be allowed to see the wizard. At first I was refused, but after crying and making a spectacle of myself lamenting the poor state of the media business the gatekeeper allowed us in.

Entering the room where the wizard resided my party and I walked forward with caution. Then, in a great bellowing voice the wizard asked "who are you?", and there appeared a disemboweled, bald, imposing head. I explained who I was and why we were there. We wanted the answer to the question "how do you create a great magazine company and make money?"

The wizard seemed annoyed. "Magazines? I hate magazines. I don't read them, I don't subscribe to them. And you dare to ask the great and powerful wizard what to do?" Steam rose from the head of the great wizard.

But the wizard agreed he would help me as long as we did some of the things he asked.

And so off we went -- me, my new friends, and my trusty dog -- to fulfill the wishes of the wizard.

A week later we returned to see the wizard again. "What do you want?" he asked.

"We've come back to get the answers to modern publishing."

"What?" the wizard boomed, steam rising from the head. "How dare you ask the great and powerful Oz for more favors."

We all meekly cowered as he spoke, but my trusty dog thought something was askew and ran over to a booth where there appeared to be a man behind a curtain. My dog bit into the curtain and pulled it back to reveal a slight, bearded man.

"Don't pay any attention to that man behind the curtain," the giant head boomed. But the man appeared to be speaking into a microphone and he became agitated as he realized we could see him. "Go online! make more cuts! move to New Jersey!" he frantically screamed. But it was too late he had been discovered.

"Are you the great and powerful Wizard of Oz?" I asked. "Yes, I am," he said sheepishly.

"Shame on you for making us do all those things," I said. The wizard tried to explain himself but we all got lost in the story.

"But I can help you," he finally said. "Meet me in the town square tomorrow morning and I will show you the way to promised land."

And so the next day all of the Emerald City turned out to see the wizard and I off to our journey. My new friends could not come along as one of the things the wizard had asked was for me to fire them, which I did. So it was me, my dog, and the great wizard who climbed into a giant hot air balloon. The munchkins of the city came out to see us off, unaware that they would no longer get their measly paychecks for churning out meaningless content for the wizard.

But my dog must have sensed something was wrong, for he bolted out of the balloon and I quickly followed. Just then the ropes holding the balloon grew slack and the giant vessel started to rise into the sky.

"Oh my," I cried. "Don't go!"

"I can't stop this thing," the wizard said. "I don't know how it works!"

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to consult some newspaper companies. You magazine folk are on your own!" And the wizard floated off.

Depressed, I almost started to cry. My friends didn't seem very sympathetic.

Just then a giant bubble appeared. The bubble floated closer and seemed to contain a woman. I wondered if I was having acid flashbacks.

"Why are you so sad?" the lady inquired as she floated down to us.

"The wizard has left without giving us the answer to the question 'how to be a success in magazine publishing?' He made us do all sorts of things in order to reach the promised land, but now he has gone."

"What did he make you do?" she asked.

"The wizard said we should close down our print magazines because there was no future in print."

"And did you? Even the profitable ones?"

"Yes, that is what he asked."

"Did you create mobile and tablet media products to replace them?" she asked.

"No, the wizard said that Steve Jobs was evil and besides the iPad is a closed system."

"Just like radio and television," she said. "And what did your editor's say?"

"They weren't happy, but I was asked to get rid of them anyway, and begin aggregating content from the munchkins, paying them pennies."

The lady frowned a bit and asked "it that all?"

"No, the wizard also told me I should wear these red shoes," I said.

"Actually," the scarecrow said "that one was your idea."

"Well," the lady began "it sounds like you're screwed. You listened to some guy behind a curtain and now you are left with just a couple websites."

And off she went, back inside her bubble as the munchkins started to filter away.

"Now what should I do? I asked.

"Don't ask me," the scarecrow said. "You don't think I have a brain."