Thursday, February 23, 2006

The future of the newspaper (again)

[Keyword: ]. Ben Compaine isn't mincing his words over at Rebuilding Media, as he reports on the final day of a symposium in Washington to brainstorm the future of the newspaper.
"The symposium is part of the “Newspaper Next: The Transformation Project” of the American Press Institute ... a $2 million year-long project that seeks to “conceive and test new business models to help newspapers thrive in the next decade” It has hired some high priced Harvard Business School professors as consultants to collaborate with the “25 industry innovators and thought-leaders” who will produce the report later this year.

"...Among the pushing-the-envelop goals of “Newspaper Next" are
  • Assess the threat to newspapers in the next decade, including emerging competition
  • Determine opportunities for newspapers, including implementation of available new technology
  • Suggest executable new business initiatives – products, services and strategies – with detailed rationales

"This is what $2 million antied up in 2006 gets? Seems to this observer that any newspaper-owning company that has not had its own task force and consultants analyze the external environment by now is incompetent and should sell out and get into the slide rule business. Any publisher who has not taken advantage of dozens of studies, scores of blogs from some very savvy current and former newspaper people among others, and the accumulated insights from 10 years (mid-1980s-mid-1990s) of being warned that big change was coming and 10 years of living with these changes should be stripped of his or her titles and forced to use a typewriter forever. And any publishing enterprise that does not have a thick book of possible initiatives now in progress or worth considering should be prohibited from ever buying another ton of newsprint. Where have these folks been for 20 years?"

Too true, Ben. Too true.

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