As a former media insider I know the feeling of “this shit is broke and you clowns have no clue how to fix it” that he’s expressing in his post. I’ll highlight a few of the points I strongly agree with here:
3. … the business model for newspapers is broken.
5. … it can’t be fixed.
7. Technology has run laps around the print media — giving readers instant news, open-source journalism, no barriers to become publishers, and an infinite news hole.
8. The idea that your daily news is collected, written, edited, paginated, printed on dead trees, put in a series of trucks and cars and delivered on your driveway — at least 12 hours stale — is anachronistic in 2008.
11. Newspapers were unbelievably slow in embracing the Internet, even though younger reporters have been pleading with their bosses for years to embrace the Web.
15. Business side of the paper was worse in recognizing the Internet’s potential and its threat to the newspaper business. I once suggested that, since Craig’s List had arrived on the scene, The Times should match that business model and give away most of its classified ads (since we were already losing it already) in exchange for Internet readership and premium ad prices for corporate advertisers (such as employers). The business people laughed.
17. You can’t just transfer a news gathering operation from print to the web. Revenue on the web is fractured (like cable TV) and a news web operation can support far fewer journalists and layers of editors. It requires a different mindset.
24 … We operated as though we had a monopoly on truth and great journalism for far too long. We didn’t listen to our critics and sometimes our readers. That cost us.
33. If I were publisher, I’d have a clear mission statement for The Times’ editorial department (if you ask 100 journalists at The Times about their mission, you’d likely get 100 different answers).
35. I’d get realistic estimation on the size of The Times’ future work force and then make one large cut to get it there (good sources say another 150-200 layoffs are on the horizon). An internet operation can’t support a huge newsgathering operation, and morale would improve if everyone knew no more major layoffs loomed. People can deal with reality; it’s just this surrealistic no-man’s-land that make it impossible to move forward and has good people bailing out.
36. I’d take the very talented journalists I had and develop a SERIES of websites that provided the best information for that beat/subject matter. The Web is all about niches. The Times, for instance, could have the premiere sites for every professional and college sports team in Southern California. It could be THE place to turn to for news on City Hall, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Los Angeles Police Department. Not to mention Southern California environmental issues, LAX and the coast.
42. And this is ultimately why I left The Times. Though the paper has been in business for 125 years, it had become riskier to stay than to go.
Visit the entire list (here).
The people who can take media into the future are sitting right there, on staff at all the major publishing organizations, but they’re slowly leaving, so somebody needs to get off their ass and empower them to help make changes. I asked for a blog at the last two publications where I worked and finally had to just start one on my own.
Oh, and don’t miss Simon Dumenco shredding the LA Times Magazine to pieces in Advertising Age (here).