Earlier: "What's killing the news business: A belief in corporations."
In yesterday's RBTN, we talked about the demise of Newsweek. Couldn't something more creative be done with the momentum behind the name? But the people at Newsweek could never contemplate what will rise in its place.
We tend to believe corporations solve problems but the evidence says otherwise. Corporations rise from entrepreneurship, get established, defend their turf, and give way to new corporations that rise from entrepreneurship, etc etc.
Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, IBM, DEC, Compaq, HP, Lotus, Sun, Netscape, Google, Twitter. Over the years they come and go, and they never solve problems. They die off and the next generation of tech companies solve them.
Newsweek can't hire a corporate executive to reboot Newsweek. But you could start a great blogging network around the Newsweek name, just like they're starting them around names like Tumblr, StackOverflow, Disqus.
We tend to throw out goodwill in tech, but not all ventures do. Right now outside my apartment in the West Village, they're tearing up Bleecker Street. How many times has that street been dug up and repaved since it was a path on property owned by an 18th century American named Bleecker? When they're finished there will be new fiber running under the street bringing me the news, and you my blog posts, even faster. Just as Bleecker's creation can be transitioned, so could Newsweek's. There's no need to break the tracks. But the past has to willingly give way to the future.
Enough of this How will the news business survive? mess. That's not the question. The question is How can we make news work much better given the new realities? That's a great question and the guy who answers it is the next leader of the news business.
However, on the pages of the newspapers you hear voices of people who believe that corporations solve problems. They tell tales that never come true. "We have to find a solution" but the problem as they state it has no solution.
A couple of weeks ago a dear man named Guy Kewney died. He did something unusual, at least in my experience. He announced his impending death on Facebook, in typically clever Kewneyish way (you had to suck your breath in when you realized what he said). Then he lived out his last days in conversation with those of us who cared to listen. His conversation was realistic. He didn't talk about how he had to find a solution, he knew that the body of Guy Kewney was going to cease to exist in a very short time.
Guy Kewney had the instincts of a reporter because he was a reporter. It was time for him to make way for the next group, and soon enough (too soon) it will be our time to make way, and on and on. But the news will still flow, the same way traffic will flow on Bleecker Street after the current mess is cleaned up.