Media people: Newspapers could not have avoided getting pulverized by Internet

The Wrap

John Huey, formerly editor-in-chief of Time Inc., Martin Nisenholtz, The New York Times’ former digital honcho, and Paul Sagan, the former CEO of Akamai Technologies, interviewed about 60 media types “about the digital disruption that has decimated newspapers across the country,” Sharon Waxman writes.

Said Huey: “The idea that the metro dailies didn’t see it coming is way wrong. There’s no evidence that if they kept moving there would have been a different outcome.”

Said Sagan: “The disruption was fundamental. Knight Ridder saw it earliest, experimented the most, worked the hardest – and it doesn’t exist anymore. Their top budget (for innovation) was $1 million – which doesn’t amount to the sushi budget in Google’s cafeteria.”

This is a pretty significant conclusion,” says Waxman, who notes that “the conventional wisdom in print journalism circles has been that newspapers were far too slow to react to the threat presented by the Internet.”

Related: Why a mega-newspaper won’t work in a region without a strong identity (Suffolk News-Herald)

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  • Dean Peters

    Just my 2 cents, one of the culprits (of many) is not understanding _how_ differently the desktop experienced needed to be treated than that of print.

    Similarly, the same pains (and perhaps mistakes) might occur as some might not fully grasp just _how different_ the mobile experience is to the desktop, let alone print.

    Don’t believe me? Just hang out at a Starbucks &/or Panera and watch the level of intimacy and type of work as some individuals deftly leap between their laptops to tablets to smartphones.

    D.Peters

  • JTFloore

    and then there was the practice of newspapers GIVING AWAY a product (news) that they were still TRYING TO SELL through subscriptions. is there some reason why virtually no one in the industry saw this as suicidal?

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  • http://twitter.com/dancow Dan Nguyen

    So let me get this straight…newspapers were fast and decisive in reacting to the Internet, yet Knight Ridder, a company that made $280 million in net income in 2002 and purportedly did more than anyone else to innovate, was spending less on innovation than Google spends on catered lunches?

    Google was funded by $25 million in 1999, and not much longer before that, was literally running off a computer in a dorm room. Newspaper giants were raking billions in profit at this point. Boy, if how they reacted to the Internet back then (apparently, by not hiring a single computer engineer, according to the panel) counts as adequate planning and foresight of an existential threat, I’d hate to think what they considered “news” to be back then.