Ownership concerns be damned, the publisher of the largest news organization in one of the largest markets in the country needs to make a major shake up in company structure and output or face a continued decline.
While ownership bias has dominated the coverage, I’m most concerned that no one whose news innovation vision garners much contemporary respect is at the organization’s helm. That’s what is most keeping rhythm to the slow drumbeat of expectations for failure that has been heralded for a decade.
Below, find some initial, broad thoughts on how the organization might be reshaped.
The importance, sway and influence of one of the world’s most dominant 20th century newspapers was the focus of the 1998 collection of essays about the once powerful Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, edited by its former education reporter Peter Binzen, who also wrote Whitetown USA.
A central story line of the book was the Bulletin’s battle with the Inquirer, its chief rival, and how, in the end, the Inquirer, considered by many to be the chain response to the family-owned operation, won. Through all the bluster, I thought there were four primary reasons that rang most true to me:
The Bulletin fundamentally failed to innovate, remaining an afternoon daily as circulation fell with growing TV news audiences, increasing transportation costs due to traffic and changing news cycles.
The Bulletin failed to develop the revenue to stay competitive, including a premature sale of its nascent TV station, denying alcohol advertising and other funding methods that kept it lagging behind the Knight-Ridder funded Inquirer.
The Bulletin resisted aggressive editorial reconfiguration, following the investigative spirit of the 1970s that soared the reputation of the Inquirer behind editor Gene Roberts, and pushed out its own innovative editor George Packard.
The Bulletin came up short in following the suburban trend, having its 1947 purchase of the Camden Courier Post denied by the U.S. Department of Justice for anti-monopoly concerns was a large blow.
As I often do when reading something relevant to the news and innovation conversations I so adore, I wanted to share some choice thoughts from the book.
It’s clearly something about which I am passionate and devoted. It’s also something I put a lot of thought into. This weekend, I found myself returning to a thought process of the past, just free associating everything I would invest in if money was no object toward growing Philadelphia journalism.
Of course, money is a big object, but the brainstorm can help. I share my thoughts below and would love to hear what I am missing or what I seem to be paying too much attention to.
Though it was written just back in 2007, it was gone. I couldn’t quite find something that fit its point, so I reached out to Ferrick. He warmly shared some of the details of the now somewhat dated piece, as he said he’s working on revisiting the topic.
If for no other reason than for my own ability to link back to it in the future and to prove how valuable the web can be in making available so much powerful knowledge and information, below, with Ferrick’s permission, I share the notes he sent me.
Go here for the financial details of the auction of parent company Philadelphia Media Holdings, which was taken over by debt-holding lenders, not the existing local ownership led by Publisher Brian Tierney.
Updated 4/13/10 @ 8:50 a.m.: Regionally-specific hyperlocal is just part of the broader system
WHYY, the public media station for the Delaware Valley region, is hoping a $1.2 million hyperlocal news initiative for the northwest region of Philadelphia will be the first successful bold Web-first journalism effort from a legacy media player.
Updated: That northwest hyperlocal is just one very large, very expensive trial vertical within a larger rollout.
But will “NewsWorks” go the way of a handful of its predecessors?
There were protests acrossthe country calling for Yoo to be fired. He wasn’t. And, as news is want to do, it seems to have all but quieted. That’s how John Yoo became a household name and will soon be forgotten.
All you need to make a journalist is pressure and time.
Those same elements can disrupt a writer. Under pressure and no longer feeling the same need to impress someone can make even the most capable of scribes turn a phrase that shouldn’t be turned anymore.
Hell, I may be one cliche away from a lifetime achievement award myself. Still, it’s worth noting a few that just shouldn’t be done anymore, and other mistakes that are so commonplace they themselves have become something of a cliche: