Ignored at own peril

Even if you dislike Rupert Murdoch, you have to admit he knows how to make media companies successful. He also knows successful media companies when he sees them. He has some advice that most media companies should listen to, but probably wont:

With newspapers cutting back and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers.

“My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it’s not newspapers that might become obsolete. It’s some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper’s most precious asset: the bond with its readers,” said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp. He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

Murdoch, whose company’s holdings also include MySpace and the Wall Street Journal, criticized what he described as a culture of “complacency and condescension” in some newsrooms.

“The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly–and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception.”

Instead of following this path, most legacy media companies are taking the exact opposite approach. They are becoming more about the opinion and politics than about the news and information. While no media has ever been unbiased, the trend now seems to be more openly one-sided than ever.

The news and information markets may have been commoditized, but the opinion market has been made essentially free. That is not the direction profitability lies.

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