I cannot believe I am about to write this: here is a wonderful example of innovation from a traditional newspaper publisher.
Pundits ponder and lament the slow, steady and painful decline of local journalism. Even editors and writers direct the blame at themselves (and their publishers) for a failure to react more quickly and decisively to two global shifts that have redefined information-based industries.
1) The rise of online content consumption, and the expectation by readers that content should be easily accessible, delivered in near real-time and free.
2) The ability for organizations and individuals to broadly and inexpensively distribute content via social media, Web search and other digital channels.
While stressful and disconcerting for many in the industry and other newspaper die hards, I view this re-setting of the economics of publishing as merely the natural evolution spurred by disruptive technologies.
Anyone purchase a DVD player lately? How is the retail movie rental business faring? Should we cry for the supermarket check-out person replaced by an automated system?
The world changes. Customer preferences mature. What was once impossible becomes possible.
In business, it is the responsibility of ownership and management to recognize impending change, develop a credible evolution plan and communicate clearly to stakeholders.
Employees then need to take action. They must be realistic and accountable, even when the evolution plan demands painful decisions.
The newspaper publishing industry as it existed in the 20th century is forever dead. Yet, a publication’s mission to inform, educate, uncover and create community for readers lives on.
In fact, the newspaper’s role as a source of peer reviewed insight is more important than ever in this age of credible-less Web banter and gossip.
The Boston Globe’s decision to allow its unused office space to be utilized by artists, musicians and entrepreneurs is inspiring and pure genius. It energizes the journalists who remain employed and reminds them of their mission. It builds community.
And, perhaps most important, it fosters creativity and innovation – the two attributes that allow the US to maintain its global competitiveness.