Why are newspapers afraid of innovation?

If newspaper publishers ran Apple, we’d still be buying Apple 2E computers built in a California garage.

If newspaper publishers ran Hyundai, we’d still be driving econoboxes that barely made it past their warranties.

If newspaper publishers ran NASA, we’d still be shooting monkeys into space.

If..well, you get the idea.

It never ceases to amaze me that in an industry that holds others’ to the fire for the sake of change, they are so adverse to it themselves. This becomes clearer after reading the Poynter Institute’s Rick Edmond’s post on the innovative  e “three-around”  printing   technology that is as innovative for print as it is efficient.

The process would mean a radical revamp of current newspaper formats, as Edmonds points out, and there would be some capital costs involved. Nonetheless, the company that developed the technology last year has said they are not getting takers to the new process.

Why? Edmonds quotes one of the developers: ““We have a lot of people who say they want to go second, but no one wants to be first.”

What we as an industry continue to realize is that the most successful companies are the ones that are willing to take the risk, make the investment in time and money,  to survive. Yes, Apple has the iPad and iPhone, but they also had the Newton (and, frankly, AppleTV is something they do not talk highly of today).

I agree with Edmonds’ assumption that it could be due to the industry focused so hard on a digital future that they do not want to put that kind of money into a print effort. But so many publishers still look at their newspapers as the flagship of their business. If they want to keep the ship afloat, they cannot leave it as is.

Hopefully, someone will step forward and take the risk on three-arounds to see if it will, indeed, provide a more efficient and economical alternative to the print industry.

It’s time to give the monkeys a break.


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