Category Archives: Uncategorized

Under summer’s spell

I’m on vacation in northern Michigan now, and I had intended to take a pass on writing for this month, too.

But my mother and my wife changed my mind.

My mom brought to our vacation spot a copy of an editorial I wrote about 30 years ago while working at The Monroe (MI) Evening News — the paper our family owned at the time.

Mom pulls this piece out every August and makes me — and anyone else nearby — read it again.

This year, my wife was one of those. She read it and said, “You ought to publish this in your blog this month.”

So that’s what I’m doing. Read the rest of this entry


Lead generation: Reframing the future of advertising

In the last several weeks, my whole concept of advertising and marketing has been reframed, and I’m still sorting out what it means. But I know this: It has given me a clearer understanding of the path local media companies must take in sales.


The Rosetta Stone was the key in unlocking several ancient languages

Now I’m going to try to work the same kind of reframing on you.

Reframing is what happens when some new fact, or a new interpretation of old facts, reveals a subject in a very different light. It’s often a breakthrough that clarifies your priorities and shows you new ways to overcome your challenges.

And in advertising and marketing, we have more than our share of challenges. Print and broadcast media have been struggling for years to assimilate a bewildering array of new tactics.

The list includes buzz terms like SEM, SEO, targeting, retargeting, social media, video, reputation management, email, native advertising, content marketing, Big Data, programmatic advertising and more. And new ones show up all the time.

Read the rest of this entry

Rethinking the mission and purpose of local reporting

How do you define the mission and purpose of local reporting?

Cover the news? Hold institutions accountable? Maintain a well-informed citizenry? Hold up a mirror to the community? “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?”

Search around the Web for statements of journalism’s purpose and you’ll find all of the above, and more like them.

And there’s a lot of anxiety these days about the present and future of this mission. With local advertising and circulation revenues spiraling steadily downward, and with newsrooms shrinking along a parallel line, two things are evident. Whatever the mission of local reporting is:

  1. A lot less of it is happening now.
  2. Even less will be happening in the future.

In many places in this business, the central question these days is: How can we drive revenue from new sources, so we can keep supporting the functions of journalism that are critical to a free society?

To an extent, I buy that. But there’s also something seriously misguided about it. Read the rest of this entry

Why the definition of news must change in the digital age

Nothing is more deeply ingrained in the newspaper industry than the definition of news. It’s the foundation of what we do, the “product” we use to attract and serve consumer audiences, and the platform on which we sell most of our advertising.

Now the definition desperately needs fundamental change, as I’ll document below. If we hope to be relevant and engaging to the people in our markets, we need to start over, beginning with a fresh answer to the question, “What is news?” Read the rest of this entry

Seeing a bigger picture: Two examples of how to spot opportunities amid disruption

When you spend years working in a disrupted business, you often wind up with a vision problem. You tend to become so focused on trying to evolve your existing business models that you don’t see the much bigger opportunities that surround them.

We’ve seen two examples of that recently in my work at Morris Publishing Group. In both cases, we’ve widened our view, and we’re now seeing and targeting some bigger possibilities. Read the rest of this entry

Newsroom jobs: We know about the big fall, but why the big rise in the ’80s?

The plunge in newsroom jobs has been a big story in the industry over the last six or seven years, for obvious reasons. But a look at the bigger picture — newsroom employment over a span 30 years or so — add some interesting perspectives. Read the rest of this entry

Explore ‘adjacencies’ to discover new business models

Breaking out of the mindsets of traditional business models is one of the toughest challenges for any disrupted industry. And it’s one of the most important, because the old mindsets keep us from seeing new opportunities that are staring us in the face.

In the newspaper and magazine industries, we definitely need new ways to see opportunities. At last May’s World Congress of the International News Media Association, James T. McQuivey of Forrester Research presented a good one: Adjacencies.

We’re putting it to use in a practical process at Morris Read the rest of this entry

50x current information = lots more disruption

If you’re involved in traditional media and your mind wasn’t boggled by last month’s IDC report, “The Digital Universe in 2020,” it must be that you didn’t see it.

So let’s take a look, and then let’s consider the implications.

Each year, IDC — a division of EMC — attempts to estimate the amount of digital data created, replicated and consumed that year, and to project the growth likely in the “digital universe” by the end of the decade. Read the rest of this entry

TV is being disrupted, too — stay tuned

Back when I was working on the Newspaper Next project, around 2006, I had one of my infrequent exchanges with Ava Ehrlich, a former J-school classmate at Northwestern. She’s been working in TV for years in St. Louis.

When I described the work I was doing in the N2 project, there was a note of condolence in her response. Read the rest of this entry