Rich Gordon reviews the Newspaper Next project report. He agrees with many of the basic concepts, but finds the report falls short of pointing newspapers toward a secure future.
I agree with a couple of his points:
- The report doesn’t deal with the need to compete with yourself. If you really want to be disruptive, find an aspect of your business that is profitable, but isn’t yet being disrupted (if something like that exists), now figure out how to disrupt it and go do it. Gordon correctly points out that newspapers never could have created Craigslist, but they should have.
- It’s too late for incremental change. We’ve tried incremental change, and have had some small success, but we’re still falling behind.
- It’s the people, stupid. We need to focus on people more, both internal and external customers.
Gordon, like many observers, nicks newspapers for a lack of big ideas, that we have a tradition of poor R&D. But look at Google — one big innovation followed by many acquisitions. Innovative companies usually start with a disruptive splash, but don’t survive solely on new ideas — when and where they can, they acquire them. Just look at how well Shopzilla has done for E.W. Scripps. There is a model of growth, and one that wasn’t addressed by Newspaper Next at all.