The true test of any individual, company or industry is how we all react in the face of adversity and change.
And so ... we continuously debate ... the PAYWALL.
Some companies, like the NYTimes, have recently "circled the wagons" trying to protect comfortable and familiar business models. Many are predicting dismal failure. According to TBI Research: "(with paywalls) ... Newspapers merely re-coup the lost ad revenue under the best scenarios and lose significant revenue under the worst scenarios."
Advertising CPM's for online are a fraction of traditional print CPM. Consumers have come to expect that our news and information will be readily available and free on the Web. Its hard to thrive with a new online business model when you have to feed an old business model with its fixed costs. In addition, traditional companies are under tremendous stress and bankruptcy as print and other so called traditional media are just not profitable anymore.
So how is it that while some companies struggle with change, others thrive?
Perhaps this isn't an example of thriving ... yet. But look at Journal Register CEO John Paton. On the job mere days, he is already moving to change culture, educate his workforce and most importantly change compensation so all of his employees share in the reward (and risk) of running the business. Its impressive how he did this in his Address to Employees: Transforming a Newspaper Company into a Media Company.
To transform the Journal Register, John keyed into a higher mission. For the rank and file, a mission is not just making money or expanding market share. They want to feel they are a part of something bigger. John keyed into this emotion and sense of purpose. From John Paton: "I think accountability journalism is threatened in this country as newspapers struggle to find their way to a profitable future. And I think that threatens this country because we provide some of the key checks and balances in our communities. What we do is important and what we do is worth saving. And that means we have to change." How can you NOT get behind this?
Its impressive: He moved fast. He created a common, higher mission, all can rally behind. He created an Advisory Board for this new vision. He made sure technology hurdles were addressed. And most importantly, he included all employees in a new compensation structure.
To John and everyone at the Journal Register: I am rooting for you, I really am. Your journey is a lesson for all of us.