I’ve been talking to a number of people in the publishing business lately — website owners, newspaper strategists, newsweekly VPs, trade publishing executives — and one thing they share is a deer-in-the-headlights gaze. “How are we going to make money?” “How are we going to stem losses?” “How do we fight off citizen journalism?”
Let’s face it, there has been a perfect storm of events helping to gut the publishing business. For me the solution to the storm lies in the very roots of publishing. People don’t want to search hit or miss for the best news, analysis and entertainment — they want it aggregated, categorized and curated. And they want it from sources with whom they’re in synch. I read The New York Times because its one place to get what I need.
Publishers do need to worry about paper vs. digital and ad revenue vs. headcount but first they need understand what they do best – what their readers want. Then they can think about innovation in delivering the content. Too often, they’re thinking innovation first and it is resulting in me-too delivery tactics. (Can you say Podcast?) Once publishers understand the consumer need they fulfill, the content and content wrappers will emerge. They will stop thinking like newspapers, or magazines, or websites and start thinking like publishers – and the gleam will return to their eyes. Peace!