On the road, no time to rest

By chuckpeters | December 14, 2008
Non-story
Image by MotherPie via Flickr

Two weeks ago, I outlined the new mindset, tasks and organization necessary to create C3.  The week following, our senior managers met, and determined that we needed to really work hard to make sure that at least the top couple dozen managers in our company deeply understand the issues, so that we can divide up all the work that needs to be accomplished, and move faster.

Last week, a dismal week for our industry, I thought we made real progress in having our management team see what needs to be done, and to sign up for the task.  Others played off the dismal/hope dichotomy.  Steve Buttry summed up the dismal week and his hope for the future in his review of the week.  Clay Shirky, the guru of hope, love and community, started quite a conversation by saying that this dismal week was predictable a decade ago.  The Crunchberry team visited, and gave us not only a very hopeful prototype of a new organization of local news, but gave us recommendations for journalists which C3 embraces, and a list of what drove the prototype.  ContentBlogger foreshadowed the dismal week, then echoed much of our C3 approach as the way to go.

The Harvard Business Review noted this week how hard it is to adapt a new business model:

Why is it so difficult to pull off the new growth that business model innovation can bring? Our research suggests two problems. The first is a lack of definition: Very little formal study has been done into the dynamics and processes of business model development. Second, few companies understand their existing business model well enough—the premise behind its development, its natural interdependencies, and its strengths and limitations. So they don’t know when they can leverage their core business and when success requires a new business model.

We have acknowledged that we need a new model, mindset, tasks and organization to move from the franchise megaphones of newspaper and television to an interconnected ecosystem of local information, available on all platforms, created “with and by” the communities we serve.  We know that we have to separate content creation from product creation.  We know that we need to develop a network of people creating blogs and wikis on key topics and communities.  We know that we need to develop a common technical framework for that creation of content.  Commercial content likewise must created in a more atomized and fluid way.

Entrepreneurial journalists will lead the way.  Without them, we have nothing to offer.  We need to create the systems to support them.  In order to do so, we need to focus not only on the tasks at hand, but why we do them, in order to have the energy and patience to persevere through this great change.

I have written before on this subject.  I am not sure it was sufficient.  I believe that we can be better people, living in better communities, if we can make this happen.  We will be better people because we will be better informed, on whatever issue we need to be informed, wherever we are.  We will be better communities because we will be able to develop relationships within micro-geographic communities or communities of interest.  Those relationships will make us stronger, and our communities stronger.

Our company might not be as big as when it was primarily a newspaper franchise, or worth as much money.  But if we achieve our objectives, we will have succeeded.

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6 Responses to “On the road, no time to rest”

  1. stevebuttry Says:
    December 14th, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I’m glad you made the point about making better communities. I hear frequently from people upset with how the repeated cutting at the Des Moines Register has affected their community. And the Tribune’s decline and bankruptcy clearly has hurt Chicago. I think developing new ways of community communication will be as exciting for the community as for the media organization that achieves it.

  2. sarasinnard Says:
    December 15th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Steve, I agree.
    It’s so easy to focus on what we’re doing on a daily basis to make this significant transformation. I’m convinced that we are not sufficiently connected with community on a fundamental, grassroots level. This is a huge opportunity.

  3. robbrood Says:
    December 15th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Regarding the Harvard Business Review’s note about adapting a new business model, I believe we do understand our existing business model well enough to know when to leverage it and when success requires that we come up with a new one….it’s now. I guess I would be surprised if any media company did not know their existing business model well enough to know when to leverage it. It is in creating a new one altogether that seems to cause managers hands to begin wringing.

  4. confiteordaly Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 5:30 am

    @robbrodd. It’s only ‘now’ if you haven’t done it yet. As Clay Shirky points out, it *should* have been done 10 years ago. ‘Now’ may be too late.

  5. sarasinnard Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Too late? Well, I, for one, don’t think so. This is a painful yet transformative time for media. We must act fast, but I am here to tell you, clearly. One of the guiding visionary principles of the leadership at GFOC is strengthening communities. We might need some help and advise from the community on how we can better serve and strengthen, but we stand behind our mission. As an industry, we are humbled giants. It’s time to admit that our model needs to change and get on with it.

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