For news media companies, it’s evolution not extinction

By Bob Provost

Rutgers Business School

Newark, New Jersey, USA


In one of my early blog posts, I referenced the unfortunate reality that many advertising and marketing professionals regard the newspaper industry as “the media equivalent of the dinosaur.”

For many decades, newspapers were the monoliths of the media world — large, unchanging, seemingly immutable compared to other types of media companies.

To many individuals, that is the image that persists, except they perceive the monolith to be eroding rapidly. So, news media organisations are perceived by most to be well on the road to extinction.

Newspapers, like dinosaurs, are evolving into something different.
Newspapers, like dinosaurs, are evolving into something different.

In reality, the analogy to the dinosaur is quite apt, but not in the manner it is intended. It is the conclusion that is flawed both in its science and in fact.

In science, the most diverse group of land vertebrates (10,000+ species) on Earth today — birds — are the modern-day evolutionary descendants of the dinosaur. Birds are both a testament to evolution and the longevity/adaptability of the dinosaur. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection was inspired by the adaptability of birds — his observation of 13 different variations of finches in the Galapagos Islands.

Why is this significant to us today?

For a variety of reasons, most individuals are uninformed or misinformed, and under the impression that the dinosaur is extinct. Let’s face it, birds don’t look much like dinosaur. And — surprise! — birds are not doing a very good job of promoting the fact that the dinosaur has proven adaptive, is alive and well, and flourishes in many competitive environmental niches.

Many uninformed and/or misinformed individuals are likewise under the impression that news media organisations are nearing extinction. In fact, many newspaper organisations have proven adaptive, diversified their operations, and, in many cases, are local leaders in the digital space and its many niches. The problem is it seems no one knows it.

The organisations that pride themselves on managing promotional communications for others fail miserably in doing so for themselves.

The difference here is that it matters to newspaper media companies that others perceive them as relevant, effective, and “state of the art.” Both audiences and advertisers need to see the newspaper media organisation as an essential part of their future … and their future success.

Crucially, advertisers need to have the confidence to plan the future of their business on the products, platforms, and services you are offering and invest their marketing budgets with you.

What are you doing now to inspire that confidence? If you haven’t got answers (and good ones) then you likely do not have a future, either.

About Bob Provost

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