the arrogance of newspapers

Posted on July 3, 2010


i just saw a great interview with googke chief, eric schmidt, at the newspaper association. his talk was great, explaining quiet succinctly the place for newspapers in the more connected future and the shift in information that we now have. what really opened my eyes were some of the questions posed by Journalists.

one blamed the internet for the end of copyright and google specifically for creating this problem. another blamed google for creating a headline and summary reading news culture.

Schmidt’s answer to both was on the money – focus on your customer – the reader. what do they want? what makes a better experience for them? how would they like to consume the information. solve the consumers problem and you have more, dont solve it and you have less.

so much of this debate is about how newspapers solve  their problem and not the consumers problem. they behave like newspapers have been around for centuries and the current ad driven model is sacrocent rather than another model that will be forgotten in 100 years as the business evolves.

the other comment that sparked my attention was a journalist asking why newspapers dont naturally get a more trusted ranking than other pages. deftly answered by schmidt but the question show the inherent lack of understanding. a newspapers article on nuclear physics is in no way more reliable than a physics paper – the same goes for economics or any other subject that newspapers gloss over. perhaps they are more relevant to a non-specialist who just wants a summary from that perspective (i.e. New York, green grocer) but wont be for the rest of the world. schmidt rightly points out that the challenge is dicovering the non famous specialist versus the famous non specialist.

his challenge to papers was simply this – whats next? there are lots of revenue models out there, why arent you doing something differentl?

well, why arent u?