Steve Yelvington: "So Kodak, the company that invented amateur photography in the 19th century and invented digital photography in the 20th, is on the ropes. There are obvious lessons for newspapers and newsrooms. Here are a few of them...."
Ken Doctor: on digitally disrupted companies' "long goodbye": "data shows 44 percent less newsprint usage (and about 75-80 percent of all newsprint usage is attributed to newspapers) over the past four years, according to The Reel Time Report. ... I’m tracking revenues from Kodak, Sears, and all U.S. dailies through 2010 ... U.S. newspapers’ ad revenue decline is worse, percentage wise, than either Kodak’s or Sears’. Yes, although Kodak and Sears are now poster children of legacy businesses gone wrong, newspapers — as counted through their main revenue source — are doing worse."
Patrick Smith: "As the debate continues as to how the media industry might sustain news and original journalism, I increasingly wonder if legacy print-based publishers should somehow use all the revenue tools and models available as online publishers and simply make enough money to cross-subsidise their journalism. So it’s less about 'making money from news', as 'making money from whatever works'. This is why Will Lewis and the Telegraph’s ill-fated Euston Project was such an exciting idea."
"I spent the last 15 years of my newspaper career regularly attending industry conferences in which the threats and opportunities of the internet were endlessly discussed and analysed. Pretty much everything that has come to pass was predicted, but what did the big newspaper groups do? Very little that was right, it turns out. ... Newspapers are still trying aspiring to the revenue levels of the old days ... but it’s only a problem if you’re trying to make an online revenue stream pay for a newsprint cost base."
From a great list by Judy Sims: "Most newspaper employees are not qualified to do the strategic thinking required to manage disruption let alone create it in the form of new products that may challenge the core because they still see themselves as print newspaper employees. Just stating that you are a 'news' company instead of a 'newspaper' company doesn’t make it true."
Throughout the history of newspapers online, there has simply been a lot of thinking that there isn't much different between the Web and print. ... The Original Sin was? Failure to create separate business units for online. ... It's a little surprising to me that after all my study of Clayton Christensen and other thinkers on disruptive innovation that I didn't see more clearly sooner the imperative of a separate operation, but it is what we should have been doing."
"Brill said he believes "the biggest short-term improvement to the bottom line" will happen offline -- with new fees online staunching the erosion of subscriptions to print editions. ... It's protection of print revenue that's most on publishers' minds these days, he said."
Malcolm Gladwell's recent discussion of the full-court press in basketball as an example of insurgent innovation reminded me of this story about the A-11 offense in American football. Underdogs use it to beat conventional tactics and some in the game's establishment think it's unfair or unsporting. Boohoo.
Malcolm Gladwell: "When the game becomes about effort over ability, it becomes unrecognizable—a shocking mixture of broken plays and flailing limbs and usually competent players panicking and throwing the ball out of bounds. You have to be outside the establishment—a foreigner new to the game or a skinny kid from New York at the end of the bench—to have the audacity to play it that way. George Washington couldn’t do it. His dream, before the war, was to be a British Army officer, finely turned out in a red coat and brass buttons. He found the guerrillas who had served the American Revolution so well to be “an exceeding dirty and nasty people.” He couldn’t fight the establishment, because he was the establishment."
"What the established news organisations in the US really need to have right now is some people on their commercial side who really live on the internet, in the way that so many technology journalists have been for years and years. I wonder to what extent they do; all the talk about paywalls has that slight tinge to me of people who don’t live there, and look at all those millions of page views and think “surely we can persuade a few of them to pay'."
"Clayton Christensen, [the] Harvard business professor who has studied and written extensively about disruptive innovation in dozens of industries ... taught us, and we taught the newspaper industry, that two common failures by established industries facing disruptive innovation are fretting over cannibalization of the core product and cramming an existing business model into a new technology. This paid-content effort makes both of those mistakes and everyone in the secret meeting has almost certainly heard and read Christensen’s advice and is choosing to ignore it."
"Most of the disruptive-innovation tales in Christensen's collection do not end in the outright demise of the big, aging incumbent. They lead instead to a marginalization, and in the case of the big steel mills that Christensen points to as examples, widespread bankruptcies and many mill closings. Yet we still have big steel mills, and some of them apparently are doing fairly well."
"'You have to be willing to walk away from the things that have made you great,' says Scott D. Anthony, president of Innosight, which consults with companies (including newspapers and automotive businesses) on how to foster a culture of innovation. He argues that the incumbents in the newspaper industry were caught sleeping during the initial meteoric growth period of Web sites like Wikipedia because the avenue for innovation — letting crowds rather than experts aggregate and filter data — seemed so antithetical to what newspapers did well."
Dan Gillmor takes on the "misguided charge that search engines are somehow pirating newspapers' work" and the criticism that most blogging is not journalism: "So what? Neither is most writing on paper, most photography, most video or most anything else."