Metaphor Limited: Daily Beast Follows New Yorker’s Train of Thought on Newspapers

"Newspaper companies need to turn the tide and turn it fast if they want to stay in business at all. It’s time to go on the offensive and renovate their businesses around the changing needs and demands of their customers… If they don’t, they will become what the railroad industry became. The railroads could have survived as major players in the business of transporting people, had they believed they were in the transportation business, not the train business. They would have invested in cars, buses and airplanes. But they didn’t, and while there remains a railroad industry today, it’s much smaller and less significant than it was." — How Newspapers Can Escape Death, by Larry Kramer, The Daily Beast, January 19, 2009.

"Newspaper readership has been slowly dropping for decades—as a percentage of the population, newspapers have about half as many subscribers as they did four decades ago—but the Internet helped turn that slow puncture into a blowout. Papers now seem to be the equivalent of the railroads at the start of the twentieth century—a once-great business eclipsed by a new technology. In a famous 1960 article called ‘Marketing Myopia,’ Theodore Levitt held up the railroads as a quintessential example of companies’ inability to adapt to changing circumstances. Levitt argued that a focus on products rather than on customers led the companies to misunderstand their core business. Had the bosses realized that they were in the transportation business, rather than the railroad business, they could have moved into trucking and air transport, rather than letting other companies dominate. By extension, many argue that if newspapers had understood they were in the information business, rather than the print business, they would have adapted more quickly and more successfully to the Net." — News You Can Lose, by James Surowiecki, The New Yorker, December 22, 2008.

Metaphor Limited: Daily Beast Follows New Yorker’s Train of Thought on Newspapers