Designer extraordinaire Roger Black has designed, helped design or influenced the design of many of the newspapers, magazines and Web sites we use daily. In a blog post yesterday, he has some chilling words for newspaper managers:
Newspapers will not pull out of this mortal glidepath until they get a lot more interesting. This is something that Rupert (Murdoch) has understood, presumably from birth. His attitude has always been to damn the institutions and give people what they like. This is what worked for Hearst and Pulitizer, and for Paley and Sarnoff. But today the traditional media polar bears (in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, music, movies and books) seldom blame the product for their shrinking habitat.
Many bemoan the media baron Rupert Murdoch's purchase of The Wall Street Journal; not Black: "Murdoch is its best hope. And, if anyone can turn around the news business, he can."
(It is also interesting to read the "about" stuff on Black's Web site. He explains, among other things, how he transformed his own business into a more nimble, flexible and lower-cost organization. He might have a few lessons for his clients there.)