Economics & Research Blog
New York Times Internal Document about Their Digital Media Woes Has Lessons for All
By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: May 22, 2014
"Every day we wait, we fall further behind our competitors."
That's a line from an internal NY Times document that found its way out to the public, and then was (reluctantly) released officially by the Times. In the fog created by the Jill Abramson firing, much of this story was overlooked in the main media, but it wasn't in the online sites.
It's a story of an old culture having great difficulty adapting to new competitors. There seems to be little understanding that digital media is relentless, where as the old culture was that you fixed something and it was fixed for good.
Download the full color document and learn how have problems with web traffic, building on their vast archive of content (Gee, I thought content was “king”), and great ineptness at social media.
The "old grey lady's" organizational structure treated news and business and technology as independent camps, not as collaborators.
The Times will survive, of course, but they're not the only company that underestimated their competitors and threats from outside their business. It's an interesting read, and but something a start-up company might have accomplished in 10 Powerpoint slides.
If anyone wonders why I and other consultants recommend starting a new business rather than trying to transition an old one, this document is a vivid justification of that advice. Transitions have safety nets that foster tentative commitment to the new approach, and not the full commitment a new business has. This beautifully written report is tacit acknowledgement that the forces of change have to try much to hard to convince a tone-deaf culture that the world has really changed. It will be interesting to see if they really take innovative approaches or if in two or three years they write another beautiful report about their lack of progress.
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