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July 26, 2010
Newspapers in Mid-Passage, to Where?
Want to know where newspapers are headed? Don't ask newspapers is the virtual conclusion of a piece by Rick Edmonds, who follows the flailing journalism profession on the PoynterOnline blog. Edmonds quotes Adrian Ryans, a Swiss marketing professor, writing in the McKinsey Quarterly about a range of companies worldwide: "Complacency and arrogance produce blind spots that delay a response and leave incumbents vulnerable."

Sound like your hometown newspaper? It does ours. Edmonds' lengthy blog post is one of the most extensive we've seen about what newspapers are doing, or attempting to do, about fending off new media on the Web. It's none too inspiring. 

Edmonds' piece is entitled "Are Newspapers Sticking to a Premium Strategy Amid Digital disruption?" We think it's more like clip and paste -- to the Web site, which leaves us suspecting there are stories out there that both are missing. It's time, maybe, for newspapers to take a drastic new look around their communities -- if they have the reporters and writers available to do that.   

As PR shops are concerned, the reality seems to be what it's been for a while: Equip yourselves to deal both with traditional and new media, and attempt to gauge which is prevailing in your own markets. Also, read all you can find of attempts to cope with the changing media marketplace, like Edmonds' piece. 

Newspapers have understandably been focused on cost control, but that alone isn't going to get them to a survivable future. Have you heard of any papers that have gone to readers en masse and asked them where their own reading preferences are headed? We haven't, but that doesn't mean an enlightened newspaper management or two aren't out there. Making "Letters to the Editor" more prominent isn't necessarily going to do it. Has anyone from the print media we should really be following? 

Trying to cover all the bases -- including magazines (anything on paper, actually) -- is going to get increasingly costly for PR. We, personally, aren't actively on the scene like we used to be. However, it's a fascinating one to attempt to follow, especially if you don't have a stake in the outcome. But lots of you more active folks do. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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