Print media have failed online because they don’t know how e-mail works. Their Web sites have no regard for the basic principles of e-mail. In fact, they operate in a completely opposite fashion.
Imagine logging on to your e-mail to check for new messages. And imagine that you had hundreds of messages each hour because you had no filter. They’d be a horrendous system. You obviously need a filter for spam. Otherwise any relevant message from friends, family or colleagues would be lost. With a filter, you receive only the e-mails you want, which may amount to a dozen or so messages each day.
Print media run Web sites, however, in this exact manner. They spam readers with irrelevant content. And they fail to incorporate the most basic function of e-mail: the queue system.
The news industry recently reported a bankruptcy protection filed by the Tribune Company that will give media conglomerates the recipe for their own disasters.
Sam Zell’s destruction of the Tribune Company is not just bad for its 20,000 employees – it’s bad for all journalists. Media empires will be even less likely to experiment and innovate, opting for a line of playing it safe ten times worse than they currently do (Yes, this statistic has been fact-checked).
Past newspaper tycoons like William Randolph Hearst, S.I. Newhouse Sr., and James McClatchy achieved monopolies because they took risks. Taking on similar risks should likewise be the priority of every media professional. Currently, most newspaper publishers disagree.
After Sam Zell at the Tribune Co. announced a new ratio of 50 percent editorial and 50 percent advertising, Editor & Publisher came out with this article, quoting an employee part of the established status quo who needed anonymity:
“ ‘Not to say that they are dummies, but this is a complex business and I don’t think they understand that,’ one reporter said. ‘Look, I wouldn’t walk into Northwestern [Memorial Hospital] and tell the brain surgeon how to do his job.’ ”