Judy Sims nails it with this post about the denial that continues to plague the news industry. While paying homage to Journal Register’s John Paton, she asks why there aren’t more like him? Newspaper revenues have contracted by more than half in the last five years, yet the leadership at these companies continues to look for ways to bring back the past with $30 iPad apps and subscription models.
The end of the newspaper industry as we have know it is approaching more rapidly than anyone predicted. What better time to make meaningful changes than when facing your own mortality? This means discarding all assumptions, re-evaluating your whole value proposition, your business model, staffing, everything. Sometimes you have to kill the business in order to save it. Sims writes:
The first thing a realistic news exec needs to do is understand their disruptor…The Internet is not just another content distribution method. It is social. It is collaborative. That means accepting that they are no longer publishers or broadcasters having a one-way “Gutenberg era” conversation with the masses.
Next, a realistic news executive has to admit that they don’t know where the business model is going. That takes guts.
We are reminded again of Paton’s comment about the “aging managerial cadre that is cynically calculating how much they DON’T have to change before they get across the early retirement goal line.” Why aren’t boards of directors firing these people and bringing in management without legacy baggage? Or, as Sims puts it, “why aren’t Rafat Ali, Mike Arrington, Om Malik et al invited onto mainstream media boards?”
Nieman has a great post about why the WikiLeaks disclosures are good for both the public and mainstream media. Nikki Usher writes that the 251,000 leaked cables gave media organizations a perfect opportunity to demonstrate their value by doing what citizen journalists couldn’t, namely, sorting through the mountain of material and getting perspective and commentary from top administration officials. These are two things that professional journalists do exceptionally well. But the public was also allowed to see the same stuff the media was seeing, she writes, and that’s a victory for public access. Usher contrasts the WikiLeaks case to the Pentagon Papers disclosures of the 1970s. In that case, the public was only permitted to read less than 2% of the leaked documents and was unable to discuss them with each other in any meaningful way. Today, both mainstream and citizen media have access to the same source material. “This is a moment of glory for all those who talk about crowdsourcing, user-generated content, and the like. Perhaps this is the ultimate form of users helping to create and shape the news,” she writes.
The Sonoma Index-Tribune has dropped its three-month-old paywall. Is it a coincidence that it canned the $5 monthly charge shortly after AOL’s Patch.com opened a free outlet there? We think not.
The Brenda Starr comic strip will end its 70-year-run on Jan. 2. It joins Cathy on the list of recent comic casualties. Not a good year for female cartoon figures.
This entry was posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010 at 7:45 am and is filed under BusinessModel, Citizen Journalism, Future of Journalism, Newspapers, OnlineMedia, Paywalls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.