The fruits of change

The lesson of the Thomson-Reuters merger is the value of change. Thomson was a newspaper company and in the ’90s started shifting, getting rid of papers and getting into data and finding great success and growth there. Reuters was a newspaper service company and it made the shift into not only data but also, thanks to the wisdom of its current chief Tom Glocer, into direct-to-consumer news. Both specialized highly, in financial data in their cases. Compare and contrast them with Knight Ridder, which doubled down on broad, generalized print products, and Tribune Company, which diversified from print, though not on a specialized track but in more generalized electronic media (TV and radio). Recognizing the value of specialized data as news and acting early — with strong headstarts, of course — was a successful strategy. Can existing newspaper companies start to think of themselves as data providers and enablers, but in different spheres (e.g., hyperlocal, listings)? Is there time?