Like really, truly invested in the Web.
What if newspaper editors, publishers and executives realized what many of us knew then that the Web was going to be huge? Think of where this industry could be today.
Howard Owens proposes a what-if for the ages:
Imagine if the Los Angeles Times had shifted 50 or 100 positions to web-only content production five or 10 years ago how much further along would LATimes.com be in audience growth today?
Howard’s question arose from the debate about various Tribune Co. reporter’s productivity — or lack thereof at papers like the LA Times. Mark Potts weighed in and said that big metros have never been that productive:
The dirty little secret of big-paper newsrooms is that, well, they aren’t all that productive. That’s what gave a little edge to that alleged anecdote about the Post’s productivity–there usually a lot of reporters and editors just sort of sitting around, reading papers. Every big newsroom has its share–more than its share–of reporters who write only occasionally, of editors who spend an unfortunate amount of time sitting and waiting for the next piece of copy to come in. For a lot of reasons, big newsrooms just aren’t very efficient–as a high-ranking editor at a big daily said to me recently: “We could put out the same paper with half has many people as we have now–but they’d have to be different people.”
Which brings us back to our little hypothetical: what if instead of fostering bloat and waste, newspapers instead reinvested those wasted man hours into innovation? Why doesn’t the LA Times jettison those less-than-stellar workers and pick up some different people? Let’s get rid of all the print workers who aren’t that valuable and replace them with dedicated and entrepreneurial Web people.
And if you the LA Times has unproductive Web people, get rid of them too. You know what they say: It’s never too late.
What if your paper, today, shifted several print positions over to the Web? What kind of innovative — possibly industry saving — products could be developed?