retail news in context, analysis with attitude

In a changing environment, only a fool keeps doing business the same way.

Two examples, from my world...

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. - which owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Times of London and a wide range of other media properties, “is embarking on an ambitious plan for a new national digital newspaper to be distributed exclusively as paid content for tablet computers such as Apple Inc.'s iPad and mobile phones.

“The initiative, which would directly compete with the New York Times, USA Today and other national publications, is the latest attempt by a major media organization to harness sexy new devices to reach readers who increasingly consume their news on the go. The development underscores how the iPad is transforming the reading habits of consumers much like the iPod changed how people listen to music ... Although it would draw the reporting resources of the Post and Dow Jones, Murdoch could potentially invest millions of dollars to staff the operation and charge a yet-to-be determined subscription fee. One person familiar with the plan said News Corp. envisions a staff of several dozen reporters and editors and that the budget has not yet been determined.”

Now, I suspect that the economics of all this have not been worked out yet, but the Times notes that News Corp. has been at the forefront of trying to figure out a viable and profitable financial model: “Murdoch has been increasingly focused on building readership and revenue on digital platforms, erecting a pay wall around the Times of London and announcing plans to charge for access to News Corp.'s other newspaper websites. The media giant offers the Wall Street Journal on the iPad for a $4 weekly subscription fee.”

In a changing environment, only a fool keeps doing business the same way. Murdoch is no fool...and he knows that to remain relevant, he has to change.

The second example is Pete Hamill, one of his generation’s most prominent journalists - the former editor of both the New York Daily News and the New York Post, a foreign correspondent, the author of more than 20 books and of countless newspaper and magazine stories and columns - as much a print animal as one can imagine.

And yet, this November, when his newest book comes out, on the subject of immigration in America, there will be no paper and ink involved - it will be Little, Brown & Company’s first straight-to-e-book venture. The timing is propitious - the immigration debate is hot right now, and avoiding actual print allows Hamill to report and write much later into the publication process. And being timely could mean that Hamill’s book could help shape the debate as the mid-term elections approach.

All of this is new to the 75-year-old Hamill - he doesn’t own any sort of e-reader, but, he says, “I don’t have any moral superiority. I don’t care, as long as people are reading.”

And besides, only a fool would resist the notion that things change...and one must change with them.

Two examples from the media business. The question is, in your business, are you recognizing the inevitable changes that come with time, technology and the incessant drive of innovation? And are you beginning to do business differently?

That’s my Monday morning Eye-Opener.

- Kevin Coupe
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