Posts Tagged ‘disruption’

Red & Dead Diffusion, Disruption & Social Dissemination

August 17, 2012

There’s a lot that could be said and a ton that has been already been written about the departures of student editors from UGA’s independent student newspaper, The Red & Black.  I’ll keep my opinions to myself on many of the crazy twists and turns in this two day saga that has unfolded.

What I will say and do want to chime in on is The Red and Dead.  One year ago, The Red & Black went to a “digital first” publishing format, significantly scaling back its print coverage in the process and focusing on creating a “24/7” news operation in line with what many professional newspapers have done.  (In the interest of disclosure, I taught many of the student editors and reporters who led the digital first charge in the past year although I certainly cannot take any credit for their stellar efforts in doing so).

Given the R&B students’ deep dive into the digital “revolution” a year ago, it is not surprising that the former staffers (and presumably soon to be current again R&B staffers) went about creating an alternative digital news operation within minutes after walking out the door of the paper’s Baxter Street office.

I was mostly impressed by the “digital first” reporting and the use of social media in disseminating the story of their stand for journalism ethics that the staff of the Red and Dead displayed.  Within two days, the Red & Black ex-pats created an online operation that could have proven a formidable student-run rival for their former employer.  Most importantly, they went about reporting news and covering the university community.

As of this afternoon, the RedandDead Twitter account had 3,776 followers and had put out 284 tweets and the group had a Facebook page with 3,298 “likes.”  The Red & Black Twitter page has close to 15,000 followers but has been in operation for a few years.  To develop a sizable following and create a digital news outlet run from an apartment within two days is laudable.

The use of social media to disseminate news of the situation at the Red&Black was also another admirable takeaway from this otherwise ugly incident.  Social media helped give the story “legs” as some famous nationally known journalists such as ESPN’s Rick Reilly and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King even tweeted about it.  National publications wrote about the story, including The New York Times and The Huffington Post, as did national groups like the Student Press Law Center and Associated Collegiate Press.

There’s a lot more that can be gleaned from this episode and I’ll leave that to future research, ponderings, blog posts and class discussions.  I’m certainly glad there appears to be an amicable resolution.

Kudos to the student journalists for applying their digital first reporting and social media skills so successfully.

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Wireless devices disrupt newspapers

October 4, 2011

“The faster the disruption of print by tablet happens, the faster newspaper owners can jettison print expenses and get closer to sustainable (but not yet proven) mainly-digital business models.”

-Ken Doctor, newsonomics blog post

Newspaper executives and industry observers are starting to pay attention to two significant developments that are altering their business: disruption and the continued emergence of wireless mobile devices (specifically smartphones and tablet devices).

In a blog post on “the newsonomics of disruption,”  digital news analyst Ken Doctor writes about tablet disruption of tablet, tablet disruption of laptops, tablet disruption of smartphones and most importantly, local news disruption and tablet news disruption.

“Digital disruption is now increasing,” according to Doctor. “Audiences are even more up for grabs than they were a couple of years ago. Advertising and sponsorship dollars, pounds and euros, are also being more greatly swayed by these disruptive winds than they were in 2009.”

In an article first published in Editor & Publisher and republished on his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog, Alan Mutter writes that “publishers have not failed to embrace disruptive experimentation because they are not smart enough to do so. The video embedded below (note: also embedded on this blog) is proof that the folks at Knight Ridder in 1994 had a pretty good idea of what the future might hold. But the newspaper business historically was so successful that publishers didn’t need, or want, to change much about it. Consequently, risk-taking and experimentation took a back seat to business as usual. ”

“With print circulation and advertising revenues falling to ever-lower lows for each of the last five years, newspapers now must find new ways to cost-effectively create content; build new web, mobile and social audiences, and monetize their traffic as profitably as Facebook and Google do,” Mutter continues. “To do that, they will have to bring the creative chaos of Silicon Valley into every corner of their businesses. This means launching multiple, carefully planned initiatives across the full array of print and digital media.”

These newspaper disruptions brought on by wireless mobile devices is precisely what I’m looking at for my dissertation.  I’m interested not only in the disruption to newspaper business models, but what publishers are doing about it.  A good headline for an article about my work would be “Wireless devices disrupt newspaper business models, publishers respond.”

Here’s a brief summary of my ongoing dissertation research:

Firms are now operating in hypercompetitive, emergent, dynamic, unstable, highly volatile environments in which a sustained competitive advantage may no longer be possible.  Disruptive innovation (disruption) may alter not only business models, but the strategic processes used to address the disruption.

Disruptive innovation can either disrupt or sustain a firm or industry either through business model innovations or radical product innovations.  There is not one clear definition for business models, but revenue streams and consumer values are vital to most business-model concepts.  Circulation revenue and advertising in print have long made up the traditional newspaper business model now being disrupted by the Internet and mobile devices. Whereas the Internet served as the first wave of disruption to newspaper business models, wireless mobile devices represent a second wave of disruption.

Newspapers are now experimenting with emerging models for online and mobile content, but have a history of failing to act on risk-taking experimentation that brings about change even though companies like Knight Ridder designed a futuristic tablet nearly two decades ago that closely resembles today’s iPad, and other newspaper companies commissioned a group to address disruption.  Wireless mobile devices have emerged as a critical news delivery platform and offer potential to newspapers at the same time as they continue to disrupt existing newspaper business models.

The highly uncertain “emergent” disrupted environment, characterized by evolving business models, unclear industry boundaries, new competitors and consumer preferences that are not well known, can have a dramatic impact on the managerial process of newspaper managers.  Newspaper managers’ decision speed, participation, comprehensiveness, and perceptions of the environment can affect the business model implemented to address business model innovation in order to gain a competitive advantage.  My dissertation explores these internal strategy processes newspaper executives are using to develop strategies and tactics to address mobile disruption.