Looking back at media in 2012 reveals a year of great change. Online media grew in stature, while print media suffered. Death claimed several media icons, while others committed career-threatening mistakes. This look back captures all the newsworthy moments in media during 2012.
You know it was a newsmaking year when even Facebook had its struggles. While Facebook's stock offering cost some investors, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, millions of dollars, that wasn't the only big story this year. Among the other top stories, it was an up-and-down year for NBC, which finally got a prime time ratings boost, only to have several problems from its cash cow, the Today show. In print media, Newsweek decided to become a digital-only publication, while dozens of newspapers got a lifeline from billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Every year is marked by the deaths of well-known people. The media industry lost its share of pioneers and celebrities in 2012. The list includes Whitney Houston,whose death wrote the final sad chapter in a life that unraveled in front of TV cameras. Andy Griffith and Larry Hagman became media icons through their on-air characters who will be with us in reruns for years to come. Dick Clark and Mike Wallace are two people who blazed their own media trails and who are irreplaceable.
Powerful, popular and smart media people sometimes make huge errors in judgment. Kevin Clash was the puppeteer behind the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street. Sex allegations against him led him to leave the show, even though he's not yet gone to court. News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch is one of the richest, most influential people in the world, yet he was told he was unfit to run a media company in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal. Troubled CNN probably thought it would grab more viewers because of the 2012 presidential election, but people are still turning elsewhere for their news.
Oprah Winfrey can be counted on as one of the media people to watch. In 2012, her cable TV network started showing some progress, though there's still a lot of work to do. Katie Couric returned to the airwaves for a daily talk show, which combines her bubbly personality with the news background she's spent decades building. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is one to watch as he maneuvers himself to avoid the tangled legal mess he faces by gaining asylum.
Review the media trends of 2012 to see if the predictions came true. The presidential candidates certainly turned to social media to speak directly to voters, particularly those in younger demographics, as a way to avoid having to use traditional media. Google+ is starting to gain traction as an alternative or companion to Facebook, though its numbers still make it a small rival. More newspapers indeed set up paywalls throughout the year to protect content and raise revenue, which included major publisher Gannett. It decided to erect paywalls at dozens of its local papers, though it's keeping USA Today free, even through this year's major print and online redesign.