A followup to the post about the Dow Jones task force, below….
I had an email exchange with an editor I respect about the merging of print and online newsrooms and operations that tends to follow such task forces. There’s a vital issue many are dancing around:
Who’s in charge of the future? The print guys or the online guys?
At many media companies, online was started as a separate division and for good reason. If it had begun as part of the print newsroom, the editors there would have tried to mold the internet into the image of print, and the business people would have sold the internet as a valueless add-on to print. Some are still trying. At my last employer, we started separately for good reason. But today, if the entire company doesn’t become digital, it’s dead. That’s why news companies are merging newsrooms.
So who should be in charge? In many of the efforts to merge or reorganize news companies, the print people ended up in charge. They have more ballast and political clout. They are the 2,000-pound canaries. Now I don’t mean to diminish their experience, of course. But the experience of the online people is being diminished and shouldn’t be. They have worked to invent new products with new opportunities and understand this new world, but again and again, I’ve seen them shoved aside or exiled as threats. That is a big mistake.
The ballsy news company will not only give precedence to the internet but also to the people who know the internet. I’m afraid I’m not seeing that happen.
: LATER: Michael Urlocker has some advice on disruption and task forces for Dow Jones.
: Roy Greenslade chimes in.
: Matt Terenzio says:
Newspapers are more religion than business to many of their producers. We need a left turn and it’s nearly impossible to get them to budge a few degrees.
One more thing.
It is my opinion that it would be much easier and faster to get the online folks up to speed on traditional journalism and print business practices than it would be to get the print folks to understand the web.