We've been among those slamming newspapers who are complaining about Google somehow harming their business when they've done little to nothing to upgrade the value they offer readers. Who knew that this was the same advice that newspapers were getting 50 years ago as well? Mathew Ingram
points us to a profile of Bernard Kilgore
, who ran the Wall Street Journal for many years -- and helped reinvent the paper to take on the "threat" of radio news. Subscriptions were falling, and people questioned why they needed a newspaper to tell them what the radio had told them the day before:
Kilgore observed that then new media such as radio meant market news was available in real time. Some cities had a dozen newspapers that had gained the Journal's once-valuable ability to report share prices.
The Journal had to change. Technology increasingly meant readers would know the basic facts of news as it happened. He announced, "It doesn't have to have happened yesterday to be news," and said that people were more interested in what would happen tomorrow. He crafted the front page "What's News -- " column to summarize what had happened, but focused on explaining what the news meant.
On the morning after Pearl Harbor, other newspapers recounted the facts already known to all the day before through radio. The Journal's page-one story instead began, "War with Japan means industrial revolution in the United States." It outlined the implications for the economy, industry and commodity and financial markets.
It seems like newspapers today could actually learn a lot from that core message: focus on providing additional value
beyond what they can get elsewhere. And, if your fear is that aggregators or bloggers are somehow "stealing" from you, you're not providing enough value.