Posts Tagged ‘extinction


The next big thing

About 65 million years ago, scientists conjecture, an asteroid or fragments of one, struck the earth. That strike may have caused world-wide firestorms, earthquakes, tidal waves, massive flooding and a host of other catastrophic events. It is surmised that this event likewise put huge amounts of dust into the atmosphere, which reduced sunlight, which killed plants, killing the animals that ate those plants and the animals who ate those plant-eating animals.

This little incident likely led to the extinction of dinosaurs. Many — perhaps most — would have died in the cataclysms related to the initial strike. But some would have lived on for awhile until their food sources died off (both herbivores and the carnivores that eat them require healthy plants to survive).

I wonder if, after the earth shook and the sky caught fire, the surviving dinosaurs stood around and asked: “What’s the next big thing?”

The other night I was in a bar for a party. Some nice young ladies who are practicing journalism began conversing with me. We, of course, discussed the sad state of our industry and how the internet is related. I had already been into the beer and, as a middle-aged geek, I am not used to talking to nice-looking younger people, so I began to wax philosophic about all of the factors at play in our current situation. One of the young ladies then asked me: “What’s the next big thing.”

I paused for a moment and struggled with the irrational desire to say: “We all die, of course.”

The still rational part of me knew that wasn’t entirely true. But another part of me wondered how much like the dinosaurs we journalism types may be as we admire the really nice sunsets and discuss the big boom from a few years back, all the while failing to realize we are living in the midst of an extinction-level event.

Truth is that many doing journalism now will survive, like the hardy and adaptable mammals that survived the K-T Extinction Event. It is the newspapers and, especially, the major corporate, publicly traded dinosaurs that will eventually die. Their demise will come, at least in part, because they believed themselves invulnerable, and partly because they have been too slow to change. But the internet has hit the publishing industry like a massive asteroid. Asking what comes after these days elicits, from many, something like an hysterical giggle.

Still, it is an appropriate question: What does come next? What is the next big thing? Will any of it save our industry, our newspapers, our jobs? What will be, to paraphrase Anne Murray, our morning after?

I have some thoughts on this. But I’ll get to them later.


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