[A procession of top editors has headed out the door at California newspapers recently, and the trend may begin spreading nationwide. The changing of the guard is perhaps due to reluctance of veteran editors to make the painful cuts that business conditions now demand. The short-term result is demoralized newsroom staffs, but this turnover may be necessary to reinvent newspapers. – Ed.]
[Jon Talton takes a bullet list approach to describing what went wrong with newspapers. Some of his commentary is 20:20 hindsight, but there are some interesting insights here:
- Consolidation and monopolization made newspapers insular and risk-averse. Innovation doesn’t come from companies that are trying to preserve a dominant franchise;
- New ideas aimed at attracting non-readers (what some call the McPaper syndrome) distracted attention from the reporting that kept loyal readers. The result was a double whammy: those new audiences weren’t going to read anyway, and the traditional audiences became disenfranchised and left;
- Groupthink in top-heavy organizations created a generation of yes-men who implemented defensive strategies and didn’t question the status quote. In the 1990s, when newspapers needed bold ideas, they were being led by sheep.
Check out the lively discussion that follows. This blog post touched a nerve. – Ed.]
[Despite the plunge in sales, the company actually swung to a profit in the quarter. Nevertheless, the Times says it plans to cut about $200 million in expenses in 2008. – Ed.]
[E&P columnist Steve Outing asks his network of contacts what they would want him to do if he could wave a magic wand and solve their problems. Many responded that they’d like to see him change the culture in newsrooms, which is still hopelessly focused on turning out the “daily miracle.” Quoting:
“The feeling in newsrooms, especially among the people on the new-media side, seems to be that there are an awful lot of people within rganizations that aren’t on board with a vision of changing for the future…implementation is being slowed by many people in the organization — including mid-level managers — who still don’t buy into the idea that a total transformation of the news organization is necessary…
“get everyone involved in using new forms of digital media. Imagine if everyone in your news organization maintained a blog, an active page on Facebook, and participated in other innovative new media forms (e.g., Twitter). By actually living the digital life and embracing it (even if you’re forced to by your boss), you’ll better understand how the modern consumer interacts with media and news.
“MySpace has well over 100 million users; Facebook has 59 million active users. With that kind of mainstream acceptance, it’s unconscionable for journalists not to participate in that online environment.
“Howard Owens, director of digital publishing at Gatehouse Media, asked for this: ‘Reporters and editors would take seriously their roles as community conversation leaders, concentrating on getting it right on the web first — web-first publishing, blogs, video, participation — and using the print edition as a greatest hits,promote the web site vehicle. Old packaged-goods-thinking about the newsPAPER would disappear overnight.’
“The feeling in newsrooms, especially among the people on the new-media side, seems to be that there are an awful lot of people within organizations that aren’t on board with a vision of changing for the future.”
Average monthly unique visitors to US newspaper sites increased 6% in 2007 to 60 million. Almost 40% of active US internet users visited a newspaper site during the fourth quarter.
This entry was posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2008 at 8:52 am and is filed under blogging, BusinessModel, Demographics, Journalism, NewMedia, Newspapers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.