In some of my previous posts, I have discussed business and social issues related to ongoing transformation of the publishing/news and information/media industries, key sectors of our economy and our society. These have included: “The Huffington Post: A short course in platform business economics?,” ”Huffington Post (Redux): Not just business as usual…,” and “The Business Model for Distributing “Scientific Publications” — A “Peer Review” Finds a “Canary in the Coal Mine”.”
An article recently published in GigaCom by Matthew Ingram (obliquely titled, “Memo to media: A Facebook app is not innovation”) presents some additional observations on this general subject of transformation in the news-content publishing/distribution/media industry, where traditional business models have come under crushing pressure to evolve. Link to article.
The articles nicely summarizes some responses by traditional news industry players (a subset of responses along part of the overall potential range of responses). From one such summary of The Guardian’s (UK) response to evolutionary pressures bears quoting here:
Why not think of your paper as a platform?
But The Guardian has taken by far the most dramatic steps of any newspaper in rethinking what its business consists of, with what the paper called its “open platform” project, which launched last year. Instead of spending all its time trying to put walls or sandbags around its content and control where it appeared, the Guardian released an open API that allowed outside developers to make use of its content — provided they agreed to either pay for the data, or form an advertising partnership with the paper. Instead of doing a deal just with one platform vendor like Facebook, they made it possible for anyone to become a partner.
More importantly, The Guardian‘s approach — along with other innovations like the crowdsourcing effort behind its feature on MP expenses in 2009 — was driven by a fundamental rewiring of the way it thought about its purpose and function as a newspaper. Editor Alan Rusbridger has talked about a “mutualised” newspaper, one that includes its readers as partners in discovering and reporting the news, and one that doesn’t think about itself in terms of what particular medium it uses to distribute that news. In other words, not a “news-paper” company at all, but just a news-distribution company.
For this and several other observations of current developments, the article (and many of its comments) is a good read for those following the evolution of business models in new publishing/distribution/media.