Grieving has five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. If the printed word and recorded discs are dying, old media is at strange three in coping with the loss.
First, they practiced denial and promised us that intelligent readers would never forsake them for the blogosphere. In the early 2000s, they fought back angrily with lawsuits against Napster and their college consumers.
Now, they are migrating into bargain mode–looking for ways to make Internet users and producers pay for old media resources. The music industry went down this road a while back with iTunes, and some newspapers have been charging for access to their websites for a while. But the real bargain attack came this week, when the Associated Press decided to bar bloggers from quoting its articles, reserving access to those who contribute to the AP database (ie the reporters of established media).
It’s a desperate attempt to bargain for a role in the emerging news economy, and it’s likely to fail. Techcrunch has issued a ban on AP references for its site, and if others follow suit, AP will have to move on to stage four.
Of course, the five steps of grief don’t make room for reincarnation. While the current model of newspapers, TV and radio might be lame ducks, I’m not so sure they’re doomed for extinction just as yet.