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
    Dave, 18 Aug 2009 @ 10:31am

    Failure to innovate isn't the only sin.

    The Radio Ink article, "NPR Launches New iPhone App" (http://www.radioink.com/Article.asp?id=1460188&spid=30800) is indicative of another type of self-inflicted soon-to-be-mortal wound, that is by-passing your source of sustenance. While corporate contributions are significant, NPR receives the majority of its revenue from affiliate stations. By offering their valuable news content on-line and for free, they are undermining the affiliates and destroying their base of support. One day soon, we will be hearing that taxpayers will be providing additional amounts to keep them alive. Instead, they should offer teasers at their Web site and a list of affiliates linking to the stations' Web sites where listeners could download podcasts AFTER they have aired. It's true that innovation must happen but it must be done correctly or the apple cart will tip over.

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