General, Journalism

What’s left that is of any value? Us, the journalists. Our name, our respect, our contacts… Now organise that in a geography-lite fashion.

I like Mark Potts; never met him – just listened from a distance when he took to the stage at Jeff Jarvis’ NewsInnovation gig in New York last autumn.

At which he delivered one of those lines that I have long carried around with me… talking about his experience at BackFence, he said: ‘We knew we were on the right track, we just run out of track…’

It’s a phrase that, as I say, has followed me round for the last 12 months; particularly, funnily enough, each and every time I come into contact with a banker – most of whom couldn’t recognise a new media steam train at ten paces, let alone the track it was on…

So, Mark’s reading of the US newspaper model, for me, is worth a read. Unless, of course, you are a UK newspaper executive for whom it might make all too grisly reading…

It was a piece that was then taken up by Mr J…

And prompted another interesting post from another of OWAB’s favourites, Bob Wyman…

But there is a very interesting point therein – just what would anyone be buying if they picked over the bones of a once-great newspaper insitution; what would you see of any value.

Because as TrinityMirror, Johnston et al all nose-dive price-wise, that is the next question – what, exactly, will anyone see of any value to buy once they deem the share price has finally bottomed out?

For me, it’s the journalists. The ‘brands’ that have, over time, worked themselves into a position of trust and recognition within their chosen, specialised subject and their attendant communities – be it sports, business or whatever.

The faceless, young news reporter will, hopefully, be young, eager and adept enough to find a new, online writing niche to service; for those of us lucky enough to have had our many chins displayed on city bus stops for half-a-dozen years, the trick is to step out of the wreckage and find ourselves a decent, digital platform that is print press and geography-lite – and network heavy.

And then go again as quickly as possible – whilst our former audience still remembers our name.

Apologies to whoever coined the term, but newspapers are unbundling – as they had to. Only right now it’s the economy, stupid, that’s doing the unbundling – just rather faster than anyone ever suspected.

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