Changing news

Today The New York Times announced to its staff that it is combining the print and online newsrooms. I can’t and won’t comment on that specifically because I don’t know much about it and because of this full disclosure: I consult for The New York Times Company. Similarly, I did not comment on the specifics of these issues when I worked at Advance with its 29 newspapers, though I have said that my final reason for moving on what that I did not want to be the change agent in newsrooms. They’re hardly the only ones going through this change: CBS News says that all 1,500 employees of its employees now work for the online service. Even TV Guide is grappling with fundamental change; see my post on milking the cash cow here. A few weeks ago, I also wrote about changing the newsroom.

The essential truth of all this is that a fundamental change in media is driving fundamental change in the market, which should be driving fundamental change in news products, which must cause fundamental change in newsrooms.

That is what we are witnessing now. I often hear people say that big-media executives don’t get it, that they don’t get the imperative for change. Well, they’re getting it. They have no choice.

Each organization will debate — until the cash cows come home — about who should drive that change.

Each organization and each executive will debate — until retirement — about the form that change should take.

Each of us will debate — until somebody goes out of business — whether they are successful.

But make no mistake: Change is inevitable.