In Newspapers: Integrate the Web! No . . . wait!, Scripps new media maven Jay Small tries to reconcile a report from market researcher Scarborough and a report from innovation gurus Innosight on the role of the Internet and innovation at newspapers. You might call this the yin-and-yang of Integration and Disintegration. Jay writes:
Establishing mindshare for the Internet as a growth opportunity is not the same thing as consolidating your Internet development, operations, marketing and sales arms into the corresponding printside organizations.
But I’ll bet a lot of publishers who read “integration of the Web site into the core newspaper business” think the latter, not the former. And for those publishers who already folded online into offline, whether hoping for innovative outcomes or, more likely, cutting costs, I guess they could look at the Scarborough report and infer a rationale for their decisions.
. . . It isn’t impossible to innovate from within the behemoth. But I know it is very, very difficult and wastes energy, akin to paddling a boat up Niagara Falls.
Integration has been the mantra of a best practice for newspapers for the last few years. The disruptive technology approach eschews that, saying innovation is unlikely to come from core operations. Start small, continually refine and reinvent, and move quick is the message.
Which will transition newspapers (the new poster child for a disrupted industry) the quickest? Can you do both? Can you do both — well? Should online groups be stripped out of core print divisions and work more disruptively? Can core divisons we reshaped while newspapers still have the business?
I don’t get any sense publishers and newspapers executives in general have a gut-level comfort with any of the answers. Things are just being thrown at the wall with the hope the wall doesn’t fall down.