Whether Culture or Strategy, Disruption Hurts a Lot

As reported by Mathew Ingram at GigaOm, the Center for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Center has released a data-filled report on newspapers and “the search for a new business model“.

Although the GigaOm headline (“It’s not a revenue problem; it’s a culture problem“) is a reasonable extract from the Pew report, newspapers really are replacing seven physical dollars with something like ten digital dimes. If that’s not a revenue problem, let’s not have revenue problems.

It’s probably fairer to say that the culture problem makes dealing with the revenue problem even harder. Most newspaper businesses should have retooled when things were going well; they didn’t. We are all worse off for it.

Clay Christensen’s “disruptive innovation” model notes that an entrenched culture readily dismisses warning signs as noise or not meaningful. Long before the old market is gone, the seeds of the newer, disruptive ones are sown around the base of incumbent firms.

This is one of the things that worried me when I wrote “Context first”: that an over-reliance on the container would blind publishers to the opportunities we could all find in structurally sound, contextually rich content.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that it’s sobering to look at the decline of newspaper revenue and wonder about the inflection points we might be missing. Whether myopia is a function of culture or strategy, its impact is equally disruptive.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.