From killing off net neutrality, to ending media ownership rules, the year 2017 has transformed the media landscape

A recap of headlines from 2017, a year where the president of the United States attacked the media and journalists, where truth itself was up for grabs

The 2017 year is almost over and it looks, despite many predictions, that we might actually survive it. Maybe. But that doesn’t mean that the new year is something we look forward to.

In 2017 the Republicans failed to kill off the ACA, but managed to cripple it by ending the individual mandate. They also passed a deeply unpopular tax bill that slashes taxes on corporations and the wealthy, while giving others a small tax break. But for those who live in states with higher state and local taxes, and where property taxes are higher, the bill is already causing havoc as many homeowners rush to prepay their property taxes, knowing that they will not be able to claim them when they file their 2018 taxes.

In publishing, 2017 will be remembered as the year that Time Inc. and Rodale went away, when newspapers continued to bleed print advertising, and when large numbers of industry professionals lost their jobs. It was, in other words, the beginning of a new dark ages for publishing.

The Year at TNM:

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January:

The time between the November election and the January inauguration was the lull. But the new administration got off to an ominous start when Sean Spicer’s first press briefing was a one-sided affair, with the soon to be jettisoned press secretary announcing that the crowds were the largest ever to attend a swearing in… period. Things went downhill from there.

The month also began a trend we saw all year: an big increase in media M&A.

February:

The end of Wenner Media began in earnest this month with word that AMI was in talks to acquire US Weekly. Eventually the majority stake in Rolling Stone itself would be sold off. It was also a month where we lost Steve Buttry, and where Gannett began another round of cutbacks.

March:

By the time March of 2017 rolled around, TNM had pretty much concluded that the digital edition was dead. Neither Apple, nor most publishers, nor even the vendors, were willing to work to make a go of it.

It was my belief that the digital edition would be an important part of the digital media’s future because it would allow for lower cost distribution and production, but would only succeed if publishers worked to create ad networks and sold the hell out of them. They did neither.

Apple certainly didn’t help. It killed off the Newsstand, which was flawed but fixable. And vendors arose to try to make a quick buck, and even the legitimate companies like Adobe and MagPlus never supported the industry (or this website) in such a way that would have shown they were serious about serving the needs of publishers.

April:

Just what the new administration had in mind for business regulation became apparent in April as the new FCC chairman began efforts to kill off net neutrality. While Trump’s legislative record is meager, his impact on government agencies has been historic.

May:

On May 17, Robert Mueller was appointed special council, instructed to look into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The appointment followed the firing of FBI director James Comey on May 9, a firing that the president himself admitted in an interview, was done to try and end the Russia investigation.

June:

July:

The summer is usually a slow time for news, especially publishing news. But 2017 was not a normal year, not with a rabid tweeter in the White House, and media companies being sold off.

August:

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On August 11-12, Unite the Right held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia results in one death.

September:

The first month of fall is hurricane season and 2017 was one of the worst on record. Still today, much of Puerto Rico is without power, with consequences we are only now beginning to understand.

October:

The Mueller investigation had been pretty quiet until October. But this month charges were filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman, and then his former national security adviser.

November:

The month of November will be remembered either as the month signs that the Democrats would regain control of Congrss became apparent, or as a minor blip. It will also be remembered as the month the FCC ended media ownership rules that have been in place for decades, allowing the consolidation of media ownership. The consequences of which will be catastrophic for the industry, in my opinion.

December:

Finally, an end… to many things, including this year-end review.

2017 was a horrible year for publishing. Yet it did not have to be. The economy, which nearly went into depression in 2008, has been slowly rebounding for the past eight years. Now the stock market is booming, not because business is so good, but because shareholders are doing so good. It is a time of greed and corruption. When the president can make millions while in office, and Congressman are cashing in, and cashing out.

The next year will see major events, maybe war, maybe a Constitutional crisis. The year started with TNM saying that the biggest threat to our industry was the incoming administration. It ends with a similar warning, but slightly different: the biggest threat to your industry in 2018 is complacency, the willingness to go along with what one knows is wrong.

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