Innovation can wait

In July, paidContent published a list of the Top 50 media companies, ranked by digital revenue. GigaOm's Mathew Ingram used the occasion to name five firms that he felt were the most innovative media companies. They included:

  • Twitter (user-generated content)
  • Amazon (disrupting publishing and mobile)
  • Buzzfeed (migrating to more serious coverage)
  • The Guardian (open journalism)
  • Gawker (making comments work as part of a story)

In his post, Ingram reflects on his decision to include The Guardian, noting "It may seem odd to nominate an old-media company like a newspaper as one of the most interesting media companies". Sadly, it is odd.

A while back, I wrote a short post lamenting the practice of appointing "chief digital officers". Common in legacy publishing, these structures segregate digital as a revenue stream. They make it more difficult to manage digital as a core component of how a content business must compete. The result: a lag in innovation.

Time Inc. last appointed a chief digital officer in 2010, prompting my earlier post. After it hired Laura Lang from Digitas, it seemed more likely that "digital" might become part of business-unit DNA.

Now eight months on the job, Lang last week named three executives as the team that would jump-start the company's digital initiatives. Top-down strategies and roll-outs measured in years convey a consistent message: innovation can wait.

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.