The Original Sin Of Newspapers: Not Innovating

from the yes,-indeed dept

There's this concept out there in the newspaper world, pushed by Alan Mutter more than any other, that the "original sin" of the newspaper industry was failing to charge when they put their content online. This is simply wrong. Many did try to charge, and they failed, because no one paid. However, Steve Buttry has a post making a much better point. The real "original sin" by newspapers wasn't failing to charge, but failing to innovate. Basically, the entire competitive landscape and the entire marketplace they were used to changed. Entirely. And nearly all of them seemed to think that they could get by doing the same basic thing they had always done.

These days, they're blaming everyone else for their problems: bloggers, readers, Craigslist, Google, some unknown "aggregators." But the simple fact is that these newspapers were incredibly fearful of innovating themselves, and basically let all those other sites online do the innovation for them. And now they're upset that the traffic goes to the innovators? At every turn in the game they were free to innovate themselves. They didn't. To then step up late in the game and look for legal and regulatory support to hold back those who did innovate seems inherently ridiculous.

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  1. identicon
    Brad Eleven, 18 Aug 2009 @ 4:47am

    @kirby

    I remember the NYT going online circa 1995 for free, then putting up the pay wall (Times Select) and then taking it down in 2006. I guess I could research the history, but ... meh.

    Your point is well taken, i.e., CNN is a more interesting site. In fairness, they're also part of a mondo television production network. CNN's got its own problems, though ... something about credibility, as I recall.

    I think these are both still apples, though. I got to this article because someone I trust--a real person whom I know personally--read it and noted it as interesting. In a more innovative medium than email.

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