Mining a (multimedia) gem

Susan Mernit offers an excellent counterpoint to the latest rant by Jeff Jarvis about news organizations’ conflict with Google News. Recall that the French news network AFP recently sued Google to stop what they viewed as Google’s aggregator “stealing” their news. This view was and is entirely bullshit, but that didn’t stop them. Now the Associated Press is seeking a licensing arrangement with Google, and Jeff offers his usually sound advice on the matter. Best quote:

In this new world of distributed media, if you’re not aggregated, you’re nowhere.
Susan makes the point that the AP has licenses with AOL and Yahoo!, so it’s not unreasonable to want one with Google. But she goes on to deliver a real jewel that we all need to consider in these times of change:
One of the big lessons of our time, I’m convinced, is watching the old legacy media businesses struggle to cope with the new rules–or lack of them. Although AP is well within its scope to want to have an executed deal, that doesn’t mean more nimble organizations won’t have a significant competitive advantage in this shifting world–the law of perpetual revolution dictates they will.
Susan’s right. It’s painful to watch as colleagues and friends self-destruct by clinging to legacy business models, while others visibly move in to occupy their turf. More nimble organizations DO have a significant competitive advantage, and the solution is a little more complex that simply trying to become more nimble.

So how does a legacy media company compete? I believe the answer is in creating nimble organizations of our own to enter markets heretofore foreign to us. Let’s face it. At a certain level, a television station will always have to function as it does now, and that will mean resources to generate profit through the sale of airtime. But our blind spot is that we bind our own hands in competing in other forms of media distribution by viewing ourselves as “only” television stations. Here’s the new model:

We need to redefine ourselves as local multimedia companies and free ourselves of the bonds that go with being a television station in today’s marketplace. And a local multimedia company with a television station in its pocket is a potent competitor.

We can be nimble. We just can’t be nimble as a TV station.

(NOTE: I’ll be talking about this at NAB/RTNDA)

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