Is it Too Late for Publishers?

by Dan Blank on September 19, 2006

David Carr asks this question in the New York Times:

“Can traditional publishing provide the kind of growth required by a public company?”

He goes on to profiles Time, Inc.’s current situation. Time’s CEO Ann S. Moore states:

“We can’t just take all our old magazine people and turn them into multiplatform geniuses… we are going to have to make some painful cuts. I think it may well be true that I have to shrink Time Inc. in order to grow it, but it will grow again.”

I find it fascinating that for companies that are already faltering, their perception of growth begins with cuts.

Jeff Jarvis feels that it may indeed be too late for many print brands to gain traction online:

“Magazines could have had a unique benefit in the internet if they had thought of themselves not as slick paper but instead of networks of interest and information…The strength of these brands is that they had — note the tense — a headstart. They could have used their promotional clout and reputations to enable these communities to form around them. But they didn’t.”

All too often, a company like this will attempt a comeback by creating new initiatives that seem new, but strictly follow the infrastructure and business model currently in place. The mask of ‘innovation’ may help headlines, but they need to take a hard look at what their customers need, and try to build something that enhances their lives, instead of focusing single-mindedly only the ‘product’, and put their efforts towards tearing something down.

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