Now that the Internet has replaced the very air we breathe, news outlets call themselves content-management systems, and blogging no longer sounds like something gastrointestinal, what's next in the ever-evolving mediasphere?
Here is my handy forecast for the new year:
In February, CNN, having seen The Wall Street Journal shrink its page size to save costs, limits its daytime programs to 24-inch TV screens. Clear Channel takes all its radio programs high-definition, only for listeners to miss the point.
Later in the month, NBC Evening News, as a sweeps stunt, brings back the voice-of-God anchor, inking a deal with DreamWorks for actual voice-overs from God.
As March arrives, the news media and cutting-edge technology shake hands at a press conference and promise to be friends. "Page Six" reveals that the news media admits privately it actually hates cutting-edge technology's guts and once vowed to "kill it in its sleep."
April rolls in, and Good Housekeeping migrates to the Internet just in time for spring allergy season, citing the climate as more conducive for staff asthma sufferers. Google acquires the continent of Africa and starts its own language.
May brings more surprises. Newsweek, in an effort to pre-empt Time's move to come out Fridays, vows to hit newsstands a full 24 hours before any news breaks.
In June, members of the Newspaper Publishers of America vote unanimously to forsake the public-service-oriented-guardians-of- democracy model popular for roughly 300 years, terming it "so five minutes ago," and opt instead to cater to the what's-in-it-for-me-lifestyle-and-celebrity consumer attitude now prevailing. In response, the Audit Bureau of Circulations creates a new metric to boost sagging readership figures, now counting anyone who merely steals a glance at your paper.
USA Today, attempting in July to simulate the experience of reading hard copy for older subscribers, redesigns its Web site to leave visitors with smudged fingertips. Gannett also creates an unprecedented new profit center, the pre-obituary, a special daily update on people likely to die soon.
In a surprise trickle-down effect from global media conglomerates, the editor of a Dubuque, IA, high- school paper hires a Goldman Sachs consultant in August to see how to "monetize" content.
News about a kidnapped teenage girl goes so viral in September that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sends in a team of pathologists to investigate.
The Smithsonian holds an exhibit in October to honor the traditional standards of journalism now considered officially defunct. The New York Post goes up-market with a surprise gourmet sandwich supplement insert every Sunday. The Smithsonian exhibit closes owing to a total lack of visitors.
Come November, the LA Times, looking to save space, instructs its reporters to stop using adverbs. Meanwhile, The Washington Post keeps its proud liberal muckraking tradition alive with a special investigative three-part Thanksgiving series on how Martha Stewart really makes her pumpkin pie.
A new blog scores a scoop in December, verifying signs that the apocalypse is indeed finally upon us. Immediately, Google strikes a deal with God to extend its power to aggregate content into infinity and, depending on postal rates, possibly beyond.
Bob Brody is SVP/media specialist at Ogilvy PR Worldwide.