I watch the newspaper industry closely (like Pulitzers). Partly because I worked in the industry for nearly a decade, partly because it was once the delivery model for all things news. This quote from a piece on newspaper owners and their challenges can be applied to many business sectors where the Web has disrupted distribution, price models and the way people now access information and entertainment. Remember music CDs? Travel agents? The list is growing.
“Publishing has been through some deep recessions before and has cut costs to maneuver through, but this time staffs have already been cut to the bone. The San Jose Mercury News has cut its staff by more than half since 2000. At many papers, foreign bureaus are gone, movie critics have dropped away and statehouse reporters are a thing of a past. Newspapers continue to gain on the Web in part because they have the best talent, the biggest news hole and the most comprehensive coverage. But that value, which gave many papers their near-monopoly, could be wiped out by a sustained downturn.”
Going from “near-monopoly” to alive with low double-digit growth doesn’t sound bad if you’re still in that business. Trust, relevance, and value (helping you navigate the mountain of news) must drive the future of newspapers. Tell your story. Figure out a better way to deliver news early and often to mobile devices, cellphones and desktops. Partner with a handset maker that sees an opening. iPod did it with music. Kindle is doing it with books. Once 4G or WiMAX is real, things only get wilder.