If indeed the Mayans were spot on all those centuries ago and the world ends tomorrow, then the situation in which the South African mass media will find itself in 2013 will be completely irrelevant.
The bright side of the world ending tomorrow is that we can look forward to some great topical spoof ads on the cataclysm appearing in the mass media on Saturday.
Seriously though, I will personally be extremely disappointed if the world ends tomorrow because I still have some of my kids’ inheritance left to spend on a fairly lengthy bucket-list.
But, I suppose there will be those mass media in this country that will actually be pretty damn devastated if the world doesn’t end on 21 December.
Take Independent Newspapers for example. But beware, right now nobody seems to want to take it.
Their Irish bosses want to get shot of them and while there are clearly some potential buyers around there is going to be quite a lot of haggling over the price. After all, newspapers all over the world are battling, including many of those in the local Indy stable. Which makes trying to put a value on these individual brands quite difficult even though they have been around for yonks.
There are some cynics who suggest that the most valuable asset in their stable is the portfolio of private boxes at major rugby stadiums.
Those same private boxes were, I am utterly convinced, the very reason why Tony O’Reilly bought the Argus Group in the first place.
So, for those who work for the group right now, if the world does not end tomorrow it will not be the end of the world. That will probably happen sometime during 2013 when all the financial arm-wrestling is done and the Irish parent pays a buyer enough to take the SA subsidiary off their hands. Whoever will own the Indy or its individual titles, it will certainly be better for the staff than under the O’Reilly rule which seemed to concentrate on asset-stripping and avoiding any form of investment in printing presses, plant, machinery, human resources and skills with quite remarkable passion and guile.
Frankly, even if the ANC Youth League or AWB bought the Indy, those working for it now would probably be better off.
Top of the list of other mass media that might appreciate the world ending tomorrow, is the SABC.
2013 will be my 50th year of reporting on the goings on at SABC and quite frankly nothing really changes except for the quantity of shit hitting the fan at any given time.
The SABC fanshit index looks pretty much like that of the Rand/Dollar exchange rate. Mostly downs with the occasional up but always reliably gloomy.
The problem with the SABC is that it is chaired by political appointees on the good old-fashioned ANC cadre deployment method that involves taking someone who knows absolutely nothing about a complex industry and then making him or her chairman. Almost as a sort of practical joke. No, actually not a joke. I am convinced that cadre deployment is actually the way the ANC punishes some of its members.
What happens is that the decision-makers at the SABC have acquired a quite mind-boggling sense of paranoia about upsetting the ANC with the result that they do really stupid things like cancel programmes, manipulate the news and deny things right, left and centre, out of fear that they might be otherwise deployed.
Meanwhile the ANC would really love the perception to be created that the SABC is not just a party-puppet because that would make their propaganda seem a lot more credible.
I am often convinced that the ANC is as frustrated with the idiocy of the SABC as we are.
The online publishing business will be well and truly miffed if the world ends tomorrow.
They have been growing nicely for a few years now and in spite of Telkom bandwidth getting a bit faster and slightly cheaper, 2013 could just be the year is comes into its own.
The most annoying thing about cataclysmic world-endings is that they tend to play havoc with the internet. Nothing on earth annoys people more that when the internet plays silly buggers and I personally see this being grossly unfair that the Mayans have somehow got it in for the IT industry. Bastards.
Otherwise and on a positive note, I don’t think that if the world ends tomorrow it will have too much of an effect on the existing mass media environment, apart from online publishing.
If however, it doesn’t, well then watch this space from the middle of January onwards when I will be giving you a weekly blow-by-blow account of what’s cooking in the media world.
All that is left for me to do before the world ends tomorrow, is to thank South Africa’s mass media from the bottom of my heart for never failing to give me something to write about. Bless you all. Even the SABC. And because its Christmas, the O’Reilly family too.
Actually no, not the O’Reillys.