Local media was an essential business for a century, largely for three reasons:
1. Broadcast signals and newspaper trucks could only travel so far, so ‘local’ was the natural category.
2. Commerce (and thus advertising) was local.
3. Interests tended to align locally as well.
Today, of course, the signal travels around the world, so newspapers, radio stations and TV have no incentive to limit themselves.
And finally, we’re discovering that when given the chance, people are a lot more interested in what they’re interested in, as opposed to what their physical neighbors are doing.
Going forward, then, the real kings of media will be local in a totally different sense. They will be the narrators and arbiters of interest for groups that actually have aligned interests. The daily newspaper for families wrestling with juvenile diabetes, or bi-weekly email op ed for the pop music industry. If one of those categories happens to be, “lives in zip code 10706,” that’s just fine, but it’s an exception, not the default.
Many of these categories are in flux, available to an adroit, remarkable, generous media mini-mogul who wants to lead.