In case you haven't noticed, newspapers are dying left and right. Big city dailies and small town weeklies are all struggling to survive and it seems like another one goes out of business every week. I will call your attention to an article I published on July 3 about the Rocky Mountain News at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2009/07/nothing-lives-forever-especially-newspapers.html.
The Rocky Mountain News died on Friday, February 27, after 150 years of publication. The paper had been for sale for a long time but nobody is buying newspapers these days. Parent company E.W. Scripps closed the newspaper in order to stop the losses.
John Temple, the former editor, president and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, has written blog articles about what went wrong. He also gave a talk at Google about lessons from the collapse of the Rocky Mountain News. His talk is available online in both text and video form.
Temple states, "It seems like pretty much everything was based on looking backwards, not forward. There was little effort to figure out how to better enable a community, or any recognition that the community of people who read the paper were the organization's true main asset. ... The same game is playing out not just in newspapers, but in a number of other businesses as well. Like the Rocky Mountain News, those businesses are looking backwards and defining themselves on the wrong terms, while newer startups don't have such legacy issues to deal with."
He also writes, "The company kept defining itself as a newspaper company, not a news organization (or, better yet, a community builder). Everything it did was based on how it would impact the paper edition. The focus was not on competing with web properties and services, but on the other major newspaper in town, the Denver Post."
Indeed, the publishing world is changing rapidly these days, including newspapers, magazines, and book publishing. Those organizations that keep "looking backwards, not forward" are probably doomed to failure. They cannot keep conducting business in the same manner they always have.
Temple's article at http://www.johntemple.net/2009/09/lessons-from-rocky-mountain-news-text.html is an interesting read.
If you were a senior manager at a publishing firm, what would YOU do to gain new business?