Tagged: newspapers

‘The three stages of digital transformation’

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Newspapers were among the first businesses to feel the full disruptive force of digital. But they aren’t unique. Best to to watch their struggle, and learn from them, whatever line of work you’re in.

Adam Tinworth’s analysis over at Journalism.co.uk of how print publishing businesses is, then, interesting both for what it says about that sector, but also because you can broadly apply it to most other industries:

Broadly speaking, I think we can place pretty much all traditional print businesses making the move into online publishing into one of three categories: Additive, Replicative or Transformative[….] 

Additive […] They are still doing what they used to do – publishing a print product that is much as it’s always been – but also creating a digital product that contains additional material. […]

[Replicative] You’re not doing anything substantially different from what you were doing before, but are instead just publishing it in more channels.

[Transformative] Surviving at this level requires a massive rethink of the organisational structure of the whole operation.

“Digital transformation” programmes are too often not transformative. There’s a proclamation by a board – everyone cheers for a bit, does some training, and then gets back to business as usual and hopes for the best. As Adam goes on to say:

Hitting the transformative stage means letting go of the idea that we’re an organisation that exists to publishing a newspaper/magazine/website and focusing on the idea that we exist to produce journalistic content for a particular audience.

Substitute the middle bit and this is the same crisis of strategy and culture that almost every company being challenged by digital is facing. The answer for all of them begins with a customer-first approach, I believe. Beginning is really, really hard though – and it may be the easiest part of the process.

 

 

More new and old media pairing

ZZ03FF51C3More from Writing on the Wall, by Tom Standage, on how old media is often – for a while – enhanced by the new,  rather than being replaced. 

In England in the 1600s, newsletters were distributed about parliamentary and Royal news by mansucript subscription “news letters”. They literally began as letters, which were copied by teams of scribes and sent out – often to be shared in groups, read aloud or copied and passed on again.

Printed newsletters (called “Corantos“)  were largely, at first, about foreign news – partly as a consequence of strict censorship laws. However, some bright sparks in the manuscript trade started included the printed foregin news – the first newspaper supplements, apparently:

But rather than competing, the two forms proved complementary. Corantos could be enclosed within manuscript news letters as they circulated, providing printed foreign news alongside the handwritten domestic sort. Letters from this period contain abundant references to printed material […] entire transcribed copies of them and, on several occasions, the printed corantos themselves. Coratnos were printed versions of what were originally manuscript documents, and the information they contained was in turn recycled into manuscript news networks.

There have always been news networks – and there have always been social networks bound up in them.

Image credit: (cc) Wikipedia 

Metered media

Kevin Anderson looks at the online paid media landscape and says one business model is emerging as a leader:

Metered – This model allows casual readers to read some content for free, but then asks readers to pay after they have read their monthly allowance. This is the model the Financial Times has used for years, and this was the model that the New York Times chose.

This works for me as a user or reader.

Every now and again I have a subscription cull when I realise I am paying for too many things I am not reading or using enough. Metered models mean you end up paying when you realise you really are getting value from a particular site or service.

API and they know it: Guardian distributes *everything* online

Image: Help yourself (to the Guardian's data
Image: Help yourself (to the Guardian's data)

* Updated *

I’ve also written about Best Buy setting its catalogue content free at the iCrossing Connect blog…

Jeff Jarvis has an excellent post headed APIs: The New Distribution about The Guardian’s decision to distribute everything online.

If you’re even slightly non-technical you may not know what an API is. Basically it’s a way of letting anyone who wants to take Guardian content (headlines, copy, images, video) as it is published and do something different with it.

It makes its content more portable, more shareable, more distributable.

It means The Guardian has taken the limits off of its own content, the limits of what it can think to do with it, and of what can happen on its own site. Feeds from its content will be fed into the most groundbreaking, gamechanging ideas of the next few years (and some duff ones too).

One of Jeff Jarvis’s colleagues describes the move as putting its content “into the fabric of the internet.”

This is a bold move, but one that shows the web literacy of the Guardian Media Group: it understands thefundamentals of being a brand in networks, that it is best served by being in the networks, making itself as useful as possible. It’s just taken the logical next… leap.

This comes at the same time as the BBC is freeing up its news videos to be embedded in other websites.

All well and good – neither organisation is beholden to a quarterly P&L. The Guardian’s a trust and the BBC is a publicly funded (and generously so) corporation. Makes you think that maybe companies that aren’t for profit are the ones who stand the best chance of surviving the gear crunch of adapting to the web. Maybe traditional commercial models aren’t going to be as good at  surviving when it comes to media?

Apart from trusts and public money, the other players in the media mix are the brands. They used to fund the media through advertising mostly, but now will be direct players. How many of them would win in the attention markets by releasing data through APIs like this? Insurance companies have giga-wotsits of useful information. So do publishers, so do pharma companies, so do most people.

If you could, what data from your organisation would put out through an API tomorrow?