The Decline of the Newspaper

I found the second part (here) of this three part series regarding the current state of print media to be interesting because it identified organizational factors that have led to the downfall of print. The post first spends time describing the current state of the newspaper industry, the falling circulation, falling revenues, etc. It then moves to discuss the possible organizational causes for this declining state such as organizational inertia, pressure from Wall Street, and the inability of management to understand how value is added to their product, or for that matter, what their product actually is.

I think the first strength that I saw in this article was the idea of organizational inertia, partially because its a new term for me and partially because its the correct application of the concept. The author proposes, with evidence from former journalists, that there was a resistance to change at traditional print outlets fueled by confusion of how to compete in new media and reluctance to change that print relationship with the reader. These factors led to organizations just chugging along as they always had, propelled by the prevailing change resistant culture. The second strength that I identified was the influence of Wall Street on these traditional firms. Since investors will react quarter by quarter to changes in revenue, profit, etc., there is a constant pressure on an organization to focus on the short term. This could lead to the neglect of more important strategic long term moves that may initially scare investors or take a bit out of profits, but provide for the future of the company.

The area I found that should be improved and updated was the last section that placed some of the blame on management for cutting costs by reducing staff. I think the discussion should have focused more around the management failing to understand that their product is information delivery and how laying off writers essentially wipes out the only value that the organization creates. A good addition to this section would have been the inclusion of a successful news company such as Thomson Reuters. They understand that the business of news is the business of delivering information – whatever the media – and have been successful in delivering news over new media.

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