New York Times has a clear strategy and execution. They are definitely moving in the right direction.
It is widely maintained around techonology blogs and analysts that traditional media companies are not aware of our changin landscape. I personally believe that the complex nature of media companies makes it uneasy to lead the changing world, but top executives in some media business know what they are doing.
Having a look to a PPT of New York Times in Bear Stearns 21st Annual Media Conference (March, 2008) is helpful to see a media company situation nowadays. It states 3 challenges.
1. Protecting the brand and maintaining journalistic excellence are paramount
2. Capitalizing on opportunities in print while improving productivity and improving our cost structure
3. Growing our Internet businesses organically while making smart acquisitions
In other words: we want to continue being a reference brand in terms of quality (differenatiation), we have a cow that is decreasing and that is why we got to reduce structural costs, we have Internet to grow both: organically and through acquisitions. So, we got: brand + current cash generation (print) + future cash generation (online).
It is nice to see such a clear statement and assumption of reality. The document as a whole goes around those statements. It is a transitional strategy, a change management problem:
The document quickly focuses in online development. And, concretely, they more concentrate in analysis and business development than in content production. I believe this is a very realistic approach that is completely different to the one taken by some “native” companies that first try to concentrate in product development and content production and then try to work how to monetize it (mobuzz, or lycos may be example of the later, and even some business units in Google). In fact, most failures in Internet are happening in new ventures of pure players, we rarely saw a “traditional” media failing in their Internet operations. There is a pragmatic view coming from offline that is going to change the way to develop business online.
That is business sustainability, caring on how will we monetize our service. 500 MM $ investment in a clear direction: reinvigorate growth within Digital businesses. But also, selling businesses in TV, radio and print (worth 700 MM $). So… aren’t they going in the right direction?
I see them betting hard, and I think they are already transforming their business. For sure, they are going to be a winner also with new technologies.
We may well critizise “traditional” media when they are slow movers, but we have to recognize that this is not always the case.
December 2, 2008 1 Comment
In communication, media (Singular: Medium) are the storage and transmission tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to a single medium used to communicate any data for any purpose. (wikipedia)
Following this definition that wikipedia borrowed from 3 different dictionaries, media is a set of tools to store and deliver information or data. But, more than merely data, media delivers data put into context, or, what Popper calls world 3 knowledge and Craig McDonald concretize in “statements”. Popper’s 3 worlds of knowledge are helpful to understand what is media. According to this cosmology we have 3 worlds of knowledge:
world 1: physical universe
world 2: subjective personal perceptions. Mental procedures to buid thinking.
world 3: statements. Those productions expressed through language, descriptions. Necessarily, statements are related to a context.
Therefore, media is something from worlds 1 and 2 that composed of world 3. The process through which media allows statements to be sent from one to another is communication. In order to have a complete communication, we need a common code of symbols and values. There may be lower levels of communication when there are less shared values and symbols. Therefore, communication is very much related to common values and symbols. Values and Symbols play a central role in Media.
Men lived in a world of direct communications centuries ago, then in a world of mediated oral communication through tales, leyends or songs… we lived later on a continuous technological improvement: ink, paper, printing… information technologies… we have reached more capacity to communicate (data) than ever. But communication remains to be the same, because what we are doing is just to put knowledge in common, statements, not just data. The fact that we can transfer more data in a given second does not necessarily mean we are transferring more meaningful information (statements), it may just mean that statements are more clearly defined or supported. Our business is more in statements than in data, or, to make it easier, in what we communicate than in how we communicate it.
It is of a great relevance in order to understand what is this business about, to have a clear idea of what is communication. Media exist because there is a need for communication, and so we need vehicles to communicate. The end, the goal, is to communicate statements. Producing a sustainable media, is a result of a successful communication process. Accordingly, media business developers are a medium, a resource, not a goal. Our goal as online media is to communicate as much as we can to as many people as we can, then, because there is a lot of communication going on, we monetize it making it a sustainable and profitable business.
October 22, 2008 2 Comments