The Death Rattle For Non-Innovators: Asking 'Who Else Is Doing It?'

from the nobody-likes-being-first dept

Taking risks can be scary, because they can fail. But if no one takes risks, then it’s pretty hard to innovate — and that’s the situation many newspapers find themselves in. Jay Rosen points us to Alan Mutter’s musings on how so many innovative ideas for newspapers have been killed off by the simple phrase “who else is doing it?” Very few people want to be the first. That’s why so many newspaper execs have talked about putting up paywalls, but few do (not that I think paywalls are innovative, but it does show why there’s so much talk, and so little action). That’s not the only thing, of course, but it does highlight that newspapers have been around for centuries without having to do much innovation at all. So, perhaps it’s understandable (even if unfortunate) that they’ve been so slow to embrace the internet in a reasonable way.

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Comments on “The Death Rattle For Non-Innovators: Asking 'Who Else Is Doing It?'”

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senshikaze (profile) says:

See I find this funny. as far as i know every other business thrives on being a niche filler as fast as possible. Meaning if you ask “who else does this” and I say “noone”, we would immediately roll out to that niche. Business (hell, life if you think about it in the abstract) does this all the time. What newspapers need to do is sit down and shut up and continue turtling. Sooner or later they will either learn or fail, they just need be quiet about it in the mean time.

Anonymous Coward says:

It pays to read the underlying story to understand that everything is not as it seems, as for the example of an idea for the “tween tribune”:

The idea is pretty simple: Harvest a few interesting and age-appropriate stories each day from the Associated Press and encourage educators to use the stories to teach their students about reading, writing and critical thinking by posting comments on the site.

In addition to providing advertisers with what Jacobson calls a “clean, well lighted place” to reach the multibillion-dollar youth market, the site would pay an extra dividend for publishers. It would hook a certain number of young readers on the news and, in the best case, begin to build loyalty to each of the newspapers that Jacobson hoped to recruit as partners.

Here’s the problem: It’s not considered good form to market to school children, especially if they are being forced by teachers to visit a site or discuss it’s content. it’s using public schools to push private profits. So while it sounds like a good idea on the surface, it’s a bad idea the likes of which have gotten many “innovators” in trouble in the past.

“who else is doing it” is a valid question when you hit something that looks a little too obvious, there has to be a reason nobody else is there already.

AlanJacobson (profile) says:

Re: Anonymous Coward

Dear Mr. or Ms. Anonymous Coward,

Maybe you should have done some research (that’s what good journalists do) before you jumped to conclusions.

TweenTribune has nothing but happy customers. You need only visit the site and click on “Testimonials from teachers” to see the following:

I’ve toyed with the idea of having students blog for over two years now. I’d always bailed on the idea because I couldn’t figure out how to do it safely. Last week my students jumped right in with me on our blogging adventure using TweenTribune and haven’t stopped since. I was amazed at how engaged the students were in news.
Kim Wright, Smart’s Mill Middle School, Leesburg, VA

My fifth-grade students have loved TweenTribune! The day I introduced the site and let them browse, I was going out to get other teachers to come and see what was going on in my room. The productive buzz was unbelievable!
Jayne Stephenson, Laurelville Elementary, Laurelville, Ohio

One of my students hates to write, yet he published two blogs on his first day on the site. He said, “I really like this!” He was truly proud of being a published writer.
Sherry Perkey, Smart’s Mill Middle School, Leesburg, VA

After only a few minutes on your site today, my students are hooked and love the content. They really like that they can respond and be heard. I want to thank you for creating something that is truly interesting for my 6th grade students.
Debbie Vane, Lee Vining Elementary, Lee Vining, CA

All my students had positive comments about the site. They all said it was site organized and easy to navigate. I have no suggestions because they said it’s great as is.
Carolyn Brown, Lynnhaven Middle School, Virginia Beach, VA

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