Posts about Business

The giant stumbles

Wal-Mart quits Germany.

Bloomin’

Eat the Press’ Rachel Sklar harvests the grapevine with a report that the Onion is about to be bought by Viacom. Add to this Barry Diller looking for jokes at College Humor, she said. Add to that TV Guide buying Jump the Shark. Start something good and popular and you can be bought.

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.

I smell fear

Reading the agenda of the World Newspaper Congress in the Kremlin — the Kremlin! — in June, I sense foreboding. Some of the sessions:

Should newspapers welcome citizen journalists? … But what are the consequences for quality newspaper journalism? By inviting their public to participate, are newspapers harming their primary function or is citizen journalism a useful means of maintaining relationships with the “free generation?” …

One of the most pressing dilemmas newspapers face today is how to integrate audio, video and interactivity into their news production. Should print journalists be trained on multiple platforms? Or should newspapers join forces with other media companies to provide multimedia news? …

Web portals and news agencies: new threats to newspapers? New media mean new competition for newspapers. News aggregators lead readers to other sources and Internet companies produce original content. News agencies directly access the public though their websites, skipping the newspaper middleman. …

Lessons from the Mohammed cartoon clash… Six panelists will discuss if there are limits for press freedom and how media responsibility can work in a globalized world. …

Media credibility: should newspapers rewrite editorial guidelines?…

Not a club of happy campers, I’d say. That’s all from the forum, which seems focused on the newsroom. The congress — which seems focused on the business side — concentrates, more wisely, on innovation. I like the title of this talk by Carolyn McCall, chief exec of Guardian Newspapers (where — full disclosure — I write and will consult): “How Guardian Newspapers Limited changed everything except our values in just 12 months.” And I’d say some new values are fair game, too. And I’d say the editors should be concentrating on innovation as well.

A whole lot of monkey news

Having been sent into podcast orbit by the Guardian, Ricky Gervais is now planning to charge for his show via Audible. Hmmm. I enjoyed it but I’m not sure I’d buy.