If I Had My Way

 

To:       Bill Grueskin - cjr@columbia.edu

Cc:       Brian Stelter - (Address unknown, please forward)

Cc:       Glenn Greenwald - GGreenwald@salon.com

Cc:       Paul Krugman - (Address unknown, please forward)

Cc:       Doc Searls - dsearls@cyber.law.harvard.edu

Cc:       Dave Winer - dave.winer@gmail.com

From:  Doug Skoglund - skoglund@pdmsb.com

Date:   Friday, May 13, 2011 (how apropos)

Subject: My Way XII - Purpose, Goals and Strategy

Brian Stelter, on May 10th posted, "For Journalists, a Call to Rethink Their Online Models" -- and I quote:

Columbia University has surveyed the state of digital journalism, and it has concluded that journalists must rethink their relationships -- and their audiences' relationships -- with advertisers. 

That does not mean yielding editorial control to sponsors, but it might mean coming up with alternatives to impression-based pricing, creating higher-value content for the Web by tapping into page view data, and helping to ensure that Web ads have value on their own. 

In a  report released on Tuesday, the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University outlines those recommendations and others, all intended to help newspapers, magazines and television stations better compete in the online marketplace. 

"We're not suggesting that journalists get marching orders from advertisers," said Bill Grueskin, the academic dean for the journalism school and a co-author of the report. "We are suggesting that journalists get a much better understanding of why so many advertising dollars have left the traditional news media business."

Wow, that last sentence really got my attention -- so I retrieved Bill Grueskin's, "The Story So Far: What We Know About the Business of Digital Journalism" -- and then the, "Introduction" -- from which I quote:

Few news organizations can match the setting of The Miami Herald. The paper's headquarters is perched on the edge of Biscayne Bay, offering sweeping views of the islands that buffer the city of Miami from the Atlantic Ocean. Pelicans and gulls float near the building; colorful cruise ships ply the waters a few miles away.

And Miami Herald executives long held some of the best views in the city, from the fifth floor of the company's headquarters.

Not any longer.

The Herald, like most U.S. daily newspapers, has faced severe financial troubles in recent years, suffering deep cuts in the newsroom and other departments. So, in one of many efforts to raise revenue, executives attached a billboard to the east side of the Herald building, completely obscuring the bay views of many newspaper employees, including the publisher.

The rest of the Introduction continues the story started above, identifying a problem plus discussion of a previous report followed by an introduction to this report, and I quote, emphasis mine::

This report stands on the shoulders of the first one, but takes a different approach. Without addressing the merits of philanthropists or governments supporting news gathering, we wanted to address another question: What kinds of digitally based journalism in the U.S. is the commercial market likely to support, and how?

Here's my point -- or question, if you will. How did we get from:

We are suggesting that journalists get a much better understanding of why so many advertising dollars have left the traditional news media business.

to

What kinds of digitally based journalism in the U.S. is the commercial market likely to support, and how?

Now I acknowledge that this is a very subtle distinction, but how does one get to the second phrase before working the first -- that is proposing a solution without understanding the problem.

However, that is the crux of the media's problem -- a gross inability to define and solve a very important problem -- the reason for the subject of this post -- Purpose, Goals and Strategy.

The Media, in it's entirety, has lost it's purpose -- the problem is bigger than implied by a question about journalists. Advertising dollars follow "the people." and "the people" go where they are served. Media, a very long time ago, saw their purpose as service to the people. 

Media, today, is in business to serve the advertisers -- an opinion, granted, but one that needs examination before all the other opinions. It should be common knowledge that your goals and strategy to reach those goals are completely dependent upon your purpose.

One final note - When you lose your purpose, you die!!

Thanks for your time,

Doug Skoglund - skoglund@pdmsb.com

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