Enter: Digital Restructuring Underway

Veteran newspaperman, Martin Langeveld, has a solution for newspapers in need of one. He says newspapers must become digital enterprises, even if they choose to continue printing the paper.
Here’s his four step process to a better business model:

  • Blow up the organization
  • Figure out social networking
  • Rethink the entire content flow
  • Outsource the irrelevant

Regarding content flow, he suggests walking away from “the focus on a daily cycle of story production.” In its place Langeveld imagines a “content cascade, where content washes naturally (and efficiently) through a malleable structure of blogs, comments, Tweets, conversations, wikis, stories, niche uses and more.”
He makes it sound pretty, but it’s not. Community involvement in the fabrication of the news product requires a new kind of editor–a community editor, to be exact. And it requires round the clock reporting, editing and publishing.
Here’s a scenario…an important story breaks on a newspaper blog that’s written by an unpaid volunteer, but not many people see the story because there’s no one inside the newspaper organization to notice it, fight for it, improve it and see it placed above the so-called fold.
What has historically been a capital intensive bricks and mortar business is now a human resource business. Newspapers need to shed their physical costs, not their labor costs. In fact, it will be motivated teams of writers and editors that will pull the business out of this funk, not multi-million dollar machines and fleets of trucks.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.