Like many newsmedia companies, we all wrestle with the rapid change in new and emerging technologies happening right before our eyes. If that isn't enough, the pace of change continues to accelerate further each passing day.
Where does that leave many of us — still wrestling with the most basic mobile applications and in some cases still debating whether or not to lock down our Web sites?
I believe there is only one sure path for most newsmedia companies. We must cast off the chains of all the legacy shackles you can muster by outsourcing as many tasks as possible to those that can facilitate those jobs and functions in a more efficient manner. By taking this difficult step, it financially allows us to then concentrate on what we have always done best — providing cutting edge and valuable content.
We can choose this path on our own, or we can wait and then be forced to do this due to economic conditions which will only worsen our fragile financial positions. John Paton, of the Journal Register Company (JRC) in a recent presentation at the INMA summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tells how the company he leads is choosing to outsource anything and everything possible, even including the legacy operation of printing with a press. He did confess the JRC still owns one press amongst their 18 daily newspapers and 170 or so publications. He was quick to say, however, that it goes unused as even that newspaper has outsourced their printing.
Despite the JRC audience of over 14 million each day, Paton will be the first to say that they haven't solved all the problems and still have a long hard climb ahead. However, they are making the moves that will lead to ongoing future success in a world full of pitfalls, declining expectations and bottom-line demands.
So look around your company: what can be done by others for less cost, more efficiently and maybe even faster that we might discard by outsourcing? Suggestions might not only be the printing, but also delivery, billing, ad design, IT departments and, I am sure, more.
What I am suggesting may seem off the charts to many, but I believe it is really a conclusion that is only one shallow economic downturn away for most newspaper companies. We can embrace the future with all the changes required to embrace it or we can face the future of change holding fast to the legacy systems. Systems that served us well for so long, yet the same systems that will prove to be the demise of those clinging to the past.