Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Digital first. Then the newspaper

John Paton, CEO of the Journal Register Company (JRC), told the International Newsmedia Marketing Association that newspapers must develop digital-first strategies or suffer the consequences.

From his blog, Digital First:

Read the whole post, which is quite long, but here are the closing thoughts. They appeared below the following slide:

Slide from John Paxton's INMA presentation on a digital-first strategy for newspapers

Now the real challenge is upon us.

Newspapers and other Legacy Media companies are figuring out new and sustainable business models. They are becoming more nimble and they are harnessing their current economic might to fund their future using those new business plans.

Not all will make it but many, if not most, will.

The real challenge now, if you care about journalism, is to deeply understand the new mediums as well as we understand the old.

Just about everything we are doing at JRC – and just about what every newspaper or legacy media company is doing – is focused on getting ON the Web.

Very little is being done to position legacy media companies to be OF the Web.

We are still limited, on the newspaper side, of thinking of the Web as a pipe and confusing it with the Internet.

Clearly, this is so much more than a distribution platform.

We are still learning how to deal with a medium that is more than uni-directional and thrives on collaboration more than it does on competition.

I for one look forward to the learning.

Judy Sims wrote the following on Nov. 29 in a post entitled Newspaper Execs: Still Denying, Still Crying and Still Lying to Themselves:

Last fall, I wrote a post about the lies newspaper executives were telling themselves. The post was born out of the frustration I was experiencing as I watched a group of very smart people repeatedly do remarkably dumb things, killing their businesses in the process.  And now, more than a year later, as these same execs dilly-dally with pay walls and iPad apps, I can only say that things are getting worse, not better.

It seems to me that there are two camps of newspaper executives.

First, is the very small camp epitomized by the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger and JRC’s John Paton.  These execs aren’t afraid to face an uncomfortable reality.  The economics of media have changed.  What was once scarce is now abundant.  Large cohesive media products have become unbundled because the bundles no longer make sense.  The mix of news, information, advertising and classifieds were simply the result of an industrial age manufacturing process.  Or as Jay Rosen asserts, every process that is practiced at a newspaper can be traced back to the needs of the printing press.

The first thing a realistic news exec needs to do is understand their disrupter.  And once they understand the Internet, they will know that their survival rests on becoming of the Internet, not merely residing on the Internet. That means becoming a platform.  That means being open. 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.  Especially in the boardroom.

Here is what @JXPaton said on Twitter about Sims’ post:

The ever-smart @judy_sims on delusional newspaper execs and the change in thinking that is needed

Here is what @judy_sims had to say about Paton on Twitter:

A must read. The brilliant @jxpaton on what newspapers need to do to survive.

NYU j-prof @jayrosen_nyu had the following tout for Paton:

Wanna know why I’m on the advisory board of a bankrupt newspaper company you never heard of? Read this you will know.

This is being churlish of me, but you might wish to read my post Don’t forget, Mr. Rusbridger, that Twitter has weaknesses.


From’s Mathew Ingram, posted Dec. 2: For newspapers, the future is now: Digital must be first.

As an aside, Sims wrote this further into her post:

It takes balls to stand in front of a boardroom of mostly old men (why aren’t Rafat Ali, Mike Arrington, Om Malik et al invited onto mainstream media boards?) and say that the future is still concealed behind a dense fog.

Incidentally, Ingram works for Malik.

I think there’s an echo in here.

Thu, December 2 2010 » Main Page, Media