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Strategic insights
The Many Business Models of News

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Written by on December 3, 2014

One of the most fascinating things about being a media analyst is that every media company is different. Your market is different, your potential is different, your optimal purpose is different (and most people also don't know what that is), your value is different and your ability to convert that value into something people need is different.

This is most noticeable for me when I'm writing a strategic review for a client. I have yet to write one that mirrors the same overall strategy.

Obviously, there are some elements that are common to all, simply because of 'the shift'. Everyone has the same problem with a business model and a culture that is based on the limitations of print distribution. The shift from being able to publish anytime you want, compared to being forced to only publish once per day, requires a different editorial plan.

Similarly, everyone is struggling to separate their business models from the limitations of print. Traditional publishers still insist on building monthly or weekly issues, a concept that doesn't even cross the minds of digital natives.

There's also the problem that anyone is now a journalist. We see this clearly during events like Ferguson, where most of our information is actually coming from thousands of people posting their own views for anyone to see.

The media has so far tried to capitalize on this by embedding many of these tweets into their articles. And that's kind of useful, but you also quickly realize that you don't have to be an educated journalist working for a newspaper to do that. Anyone can curate a bunch a tweets into an article.

In fact, go to Flipboard and search for 'Ferguson', and you will find thousands of user-made magazines with links to content from around the web about just that one topic.

So, when it comes to all these transitional changes, most media companies share the same problems. But when you look at the future, you see all these wonderful individual paths. The problems of the past might be the same, but the opportunities for the futures are unique for each media company.

Everyone is suffering from the Silicon Valley Syndrome

I have noticed a very disturbing trend over the past couple of years, which today has reached a point where I would define it as directly damaging for those trying to define the future strategy for news.

I call it the Silicon Valley Syndrome. And just like the Stockholm syndrome, it confused people into thinking that just one model is their only path forward. Even though the model hasn't yet been proved, everyone seems to be excited about it.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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Check out my book: THE SHIFT - from print to digital and beyond? Free for Baekdal Plus subscribers, $8.79 on Amazon.

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