Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

News organizations’ cultural paralysis

Posted on | March 10, 2012 | No Comments

PaidContent’s Staci Kramer took a deep dive into the much-discussed Project for Excellence in Journalism study that shows among other things that news organizations are losing $7 for every $1 gained in digital revenue. A sobering but not new statistic. (See other interesting media stories in the Week in Media post).

What’s surprising–and what Kramer illuminates in her piece–is the cultural paralysis that plagues news organizations. Presumably most executives know a little math and how to navigate their way around an Excel spreadsheet, but the numbers they’ve been staring at for a decade seem not to be sparking much action.

She writes:

One exec bluntly states, “There’s no doubt we’re going out of business right now.” (Who said it? Unless he or she comes forward, we don’t have a clue. The same is true for all of the newspaper execs quoted in The Search for a New Business Model.)

The same exec explains: “There might be a 90 percent chance you’ll accelerate the decline if you gamble and a 10 percent chance you might find the new model. No one is willing to take that chance.”

I sat in an internal meeting this week at UBM Electronics in which an executive from our parent company, UBM, mentioned that overall the company’s print-digital revenues are now about 50-50. It surprised me that it was even and that print wasn’t, say 25 percent of overall revenues or less. There are still many audiences and advertising segments that prefer print, and that’s fine.

But for those that don’t, many of us have struggled with our changing business for more than a decade. And we’ve acted. It’s a process and an evolution and it’s often not pretty, but we’ve acted.

Acting good. Inertia bad.

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