Bassackwards business

I constantly hear newspaper executives fret, “How am I going to get enough money to support my newsroom.” I did an interview about TV the other day and one of the questions was, “How are networks and producers going to get enough money to make the shows the make?”

In what business can you start your calculations with the bottom line you want to have: ‘I need to make this much money’? Doesn’t every sane business (that is new and hopeful or healthy and growing) start, instead, by saying, ‘This is my product, this is what customers are willing to pay in the marketplace, this is what it is worth, so that’s what I’ll make’?

That is the problem with threatened media businesses: They continue to concentrate on preserving their pasts, on the revenue they used to make as monopolies and megaliths in the age of big, and not on the products they create and the value they bring their customers in a new and competitive marketplace.

I wouldn’t bet stock on guys who look at their businesses from the wrong end.

  • Unfortunately, the people who produce content for networks and newspapers look at it that way too. They look for an employer to pay them to produce content, and few have the entrepreneurial spirit to just produce the content and then market it directly to people.

    Case in point, TV Shows. Firefly had a devoted fanbase that would have come out in droves to directly buy a direct to DVD second season. But producers aren’t in the mindset of selling directly to the fans. They want to sell, lock, stock, and barrel the show to a network (or in case of films, to a studio) to guarantee that they can make a film. The uncertainty of cutting out the middle man helps prop up the status quo.

    Once some creators show that you don’t need these middle-men, or find a service that handles distribution for the producer for a fee (as opposed to assuming ownership of the content). The networks will fall. The middle men will have far less power and influence over what gets produced. Creators and End Users (I’m trying to avoid the dread word “consumer” for your sake Jeff) will have greater influence, creating a more efficient “marketplace”

  • You’re right of course but it’s worse than that.

    When someone tells them that understanding customers expectations and exceeding them is “How to get enough money to support [the] newsroom” they say, “That’s too hard!”

    The media deserves every bit of their dilemma. They’ve earned it through decades of neglect.