Erick Schonfeld’s recent column on old media letting go of control really hits a point of frustration for those of us trying to move the media mountain.

I keep going back to former WSJ publisher Gordon Crovitz’s axiom “The medium is no longer the message and, if not careful, can block the message.” The YouTubes, Facebooks, Flickrs and Twitters of the world have broken down the fence old media used to filter the message to the readers. Old media will drown in the flood of information conduits if it refuses to come out of the ivory tower and join the herd.

Yet, I hear lots of talk from newspapers, but little action from most. And what action comes still remains focused on the old print strategies. Granted, in today’s climate there not much incentive for taking risk with something dramatically new. But continuing to chase “low-lying fruit” to meet budget goals does nothing for the long-term. Risk must be taken, initiatives must be done. Those in the field ready for the new battle need to see a commitment from the top. Many are not seeing it.

To break the cycle, the old business model mold must be broken and a new one forged. That’s a risk too many publishers seem unwilling to take.

One side note: In Schonfeld’s column, he mentions a suggestion from Chris Anderson, the Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, of tiering the presentation and monetization of content. He mentions a pyramid approach, with true journalism (staff-generated content) at the top; reader comments, twittering and blog posts linking to traditional media; and the center beign a mingling of the two, where the best reader comments join with reporter and group blogs.

From this, Anderson says, high-CPM ads would be sold by staff sales on the top tier, while the bottom tier would be sold through Adsense and other networks. As stories move up the pyramid, they would be sold as higher-CPMs.

I’d add one more level to this: database. I still think a good, robust and easily searchable local can be monetized as the community gets a griop of just how useful it can be. Again, this can be monetized through advertisers who buy into certain topics or levels.

But, no matter what, if newspapers was to maintain in the new world, they must learn the no longer are in control.


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