Report: Efforts at digital transformation feel ‘like mowing the yard when the house is on fire’

The Local Media Association released a report Monday that shows a disconnect among key people in newsrooms working to become digital. The report is based on a survey of nearly 200 people in the industry, including CEOs, publishers and digital leaders in newspapers and broadcast.

Those CEOs, according to the report, didn’t think they’re getting much out of what they’ve invested in digital. Digital leaders surveyed didn’t think the CEOs get how long it takes to truly transform. From the report:

“It’s like mowing the yard when the house is on fire,” said one top digital executive. There were a lot of nodding heads. Another in the group said, “Fear of failure looms large in my organization.” There were more nodding heads.

Here are some of the report’s findings:

Just 24 percent of local leaders (“publishers, station managers and top local leaders employed by 20 local media companies that are generally viewed as progressive in the industry”) thought they had enough people to meet their digital revenue goals.

Fifty-three percent of those local leaders said their staff wasn’t properly trained to meet those digital revenue goals.

The CEOs, local leaders and people working in research and development agreed that recruiting and keeping talent was their biggest issue.

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The digital leaders were asked what angered them about their organizations. Here are a few of those responses.

 – Trying to become digital-first with a legacy mindset

– Continuing to hear the myth that print or TV still pays the bills

– Relentless incrementalism

– Unrealistic budgets

– The schizophrenia that exists

– Technology is still linked to old legacy systems

– Poor allocation of resources combined with a legacy culture

The report’s conclusion: “Companies need to get on the same page when it comes to their digital strategy. ALL sides need to do a better job listening to each other. An executive-level retreat that brings the corporate team and local leaders together is a good first step.”

You can read the full report here.

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