GREED, BAD MANAGEMENT, AND LACK OF RE-INVESTMENT

Files under General | Feb 28th

2935121768_c607efe0a9_b2The sad news from Colorado, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia, where great newspaper brands are collapsing, doesn’t deserve too much attention.

It’s not the death of newspapers but the end of an era of greed, bad management and, more importantly, a lack of re-investment in the core business.

Remember:

The World of Pulitzer died.

The New York Herald died.

There always will be casualties.

Like in any other business or industry.

But the newspaper implosion in the USA has very specific reasons.

I got a message today from one of our best British senior consultants, and I will quote him because what he says makes a lot of sense:

If your newspaper is boring, people will stop buying it.

If it is essential to their lives they will go on buying it, and more will buy.

The US problem is very different to the rest of the world.

I believe what he says about the shift to internet in US particularly being a self fulfilling prophecy.

In US it is nasty to go & buy a paper and they are BORING in general.

In most places in the world one buys a paper from a person one knows & can talk to them each day.

In 1981/2 financial year we (UK newspaper industry) were delighted to make 9% profit/turnover.

In fact Bradford did 8.9% that year and Pearsons were delighted & we had a chairman’s party.

By 2003 corporate MDs were being sacked for failing to make 40%.

Why?

The corporation directors had to make their bonuses, which we of the 80’s didn’t get to the same extent.

In 1982 it was 10% to salary.

By 2003 people were getting 150% or even bigger bonuses and some in “Fleet Street” were receiving over $1M even in production.

The products got more and more boring so people stopped buying, so staff were sacked and enthusiasm fell etc.

Down the drain we go in a nice spiral.

All fuelled by greed when enthusiasm and connectedness and news  was what people wanted to buy, not cost saving and a few people’s wealth…

When we were in Harvard 2005 the message was clear – the proprietors didn’t know how to fit the market with their profit expectations so they substituted technology.

Of course that is feasible and is what we do.

I’ve been reading many books I was delighted to find in the COOP in 2005 – so many I had to buy an extra suitcase – and all of them decry the greed motive killing the US newspaper, radio & TV industries, encouraged by the business barons who want to hide what they are up to.

Morals just like a cowboy movie.

Milking wealthy industries is an easy job, and stupid and incompetent managers can do it.

But today, real managers are needed more than ever.

A lesson that my father used to teach me with these Spanish words, which, unfortunately, are very difficult to translate:

“Para las cuestas arriba quiero mi burro, que las cuestas abajo yo me las subo.”



NO ICEBERG, JUST BLIND CAPTAINS

Files under General | Feb 27th

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Earl Wilkinson, the executive director of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) has written some commonsense observations when many media players seem lost and badly advised.

Read here his excellent paper.

This is not a crisis of newspapers.

This is a crisis of leadership in many Titanics.

So, no iceberg, just blind captains.



RUPERT MURDOCH IN THE 2009 ‘INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS’ WORLD REPORT

Files under General | Feb 26th

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Good news from New York.

The Chairman of News International, Rupert Murdoch, has agreed to write the preface of our 2009 Innovations in Newspapers World Report.

This is INNOVATION publication has been published since 1999 for the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), and now has editions in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Italian and French.



NEWSROOM INTEGRATION ACCORDING TO INNOVATION (2): ‘ONE KITCHEN, MANY RESTAURANTS’

Files under General | Feb 25th

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The full integration of newsrooms means:

“One kitchen, many restaurants.”

And not like the food courts that we see in some airports or shopping malls — with the restaurants together, but working alone, sharing only a roof and their tables and chairs.



MORE DESIGN AWARDS FOR INNOVATION’S PROJECTS

Files under General | Feb 21st

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The Society for News Design (SND) has awarded us with not just two World’s Best-Designed Newspapers (Expresso and Eleftheros Typos), the Gold for Revista Única and the Silver for the redesign of Correio, but also with one Silver and three more Awards of Excellence for the brilliant infographics from the team led by Luiz Chumpitaz for the AMG newspapers of Dubai, and another Award of Excellence for the redesign of El Heraldo in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Thanks to INNOVATION’s MICHAEL AGAR for all the fantastic infographics training and work done in Dubai.

And thanks to JAVIER ERREA who said to me today that he considers the redesign of El Heraldo – where Fabian Cárdenas is a great visual editor – his best work done in 2008.

And as always, thanks to the publishers and editors of all these papers.

INNOVATION has never gotten so many awards in a single year.

Here are some of the fantastic infographics from our client in Dubai and pages from some of the early prototypes done for El Heraldo.

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DR. FRANCISCO GÓMEZ ANTÓN

Files under General | Feb 20th

embajador-isabel-catolicaThe Spanish government has honored our first president, Dr. Francisco
Gómez Antón, now living in Mexico, with the “Gran Encomienda de la
Orden de Isabel la Católica”, the highest distinction for individuals who have performed outstanding services to enhance the prosperity of Latin America.
 
Created by King Fernando VII in 1815, the medal was presented a
few days ago to Dr. Gomez Anton by the Spanish Ambassador in
Mexico, Carmelo Angulo Barturen (both in the picture).
 
Gomez Anton was INNOVATION’s first president, and is now our Honorary President. He is a professor of Law and Journalism, and one of the best known personalities among Latin American media.
 
For many years he was the driving force behind the University of Navarra’s Latin American Program (PGLA) which was Spain’s equivalent of  Harvard University’s Nieman Fellowship Program.
 
With almost 500 PGLA fellowship program graduates scattered throughout Latin America, many of them publishers and editors of the leading media companies in the region, Don Francisco richly deserved this honor.
 
Nobody in the last 40 years has done more for the training of Latin
American journalists than Gomez Anton.
 
So, all of us are very, very happy and proud of him, and his great
contribution to this profession.
 
Congratulations, Don Francisco!



INNOVATION’S REDESIGN OF CORREO GETS A SILVER MEDAL

Files under General | Feb 20th

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Another INNOVATION project has won a SILVER MEDAL in the latest SND design competition.

This is the biggest award ever given in Brazil for the redesign of a newspaper.

The credit goes to our fantastic team, led by EDUARDO TESSLER as the Project Manager and GUILLERMO NAGORE as INNOVATION’s design consultant, and a team that included CARLO CAMPOS, JAVIER RAMIREZ, GABRIEL SAMA, CHIQUI ESTEBAN,  OSCAR VALPORTO, RICARDO MELO and DFECIO TRUJILLO.

And thanks to it’s great Art Director, too.

This family-owned newspaper had a first-class management and editorial team and they must be remembered today: Guilherme Lager, the CEO; Luiz Albuquerque, the executive director; and Rodrigo Cavalcante who was the editor-in-chief at the time.

Thanks to all of them, SND, and the readers and advertisers of Bahia.

This newspaper was bankrupt and today is the fastest growing newspaper in Brazil.

And what a better time for the award than Carnaval!



NEWSROOM INTEGRATION ACCORDING TO INNOVATION (1): A STRATEGY OF GROWTH

Files under General | Feb 19th

ASK AP

More than 15 years ago, INNOVATION established this vision for the media industry:

“From Media Companies, to Information Engines.”

So, we are not recent converts to total multimedia integration.

This has been our mantra in the past.

This is our  mantra for today.

And this is our mantra for the future.

But because “total multimedia integration” is not just cooperation, or simple convergence, I am going to go over what we consider to be the basic principles for a successful process that doesn’t undermine the traditions of quality, profitable journalism.

Here is the first principle:

INTEGRATION is not just a way to save money.

It’s a way to INVEST IN THE FUTURE.

It’s a strategy of growth.

To produce better products.

Better journalism.

In a more efficient way.

(Pictured: The New York Times’ old newsroom)




A RECORD: TWO INNOVATION NEWSPAPERS AMONG THE FIVE BEST-DESIGNED NEWSPAPERS IN THE WORLD

Files under General | Feb 18th

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The BIG NEWS came from Syracuse (New York) just a few minutes ago:

In its 30th annual “The Best of Newspaper Design™ Creative Competition,” the Society for News Design has named four newspapers from Europe and one from Mexico as “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers™.”

This year’s “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers™” are:

  • Akzia, Moscow, Russia, biweekly, circulation 200,000
  • Eleftheros Tipos, Athens, Greece, daily, circulation, 86,000
  • Expresso, Paço de Arcos, Portugal, weekly, circulation 120,000
  • The News, Mexico City, daily, circulation 10,000
  • Welt am Sonntag, Berlin, weekly, 400,000

So, we are very, very happy.

Our thanks go to the two INNOVATION teams involved in the editorial and graphic relaunches of these two papers.

Carlos Soria, Juan Senor and I had the privilege to lead the projects with JAVIER ERREA as INNOVATION’s chief design consultant, and MARTA BOTERO and GABRIEL SAMA as our leading editorial project managers, plus all the work done by PABLO RAMIREZ, CHIQUI ESTEBAN, JAVIER ZARRACINA, EDUARDO TESSLER, SAF FAHIM, MICHAEL FAIRHEAD, PABLO ERREA, DANIEL LOZANO, JUAN IGNACIO FERNANDEZ… and MARTA TORRES as the force behind our international teams.

Congratulations and thanks to Marco Griego and  Spiros Polikandriotis, the fantastic visual editors of EXPRESSO and ELEFTHEROS TYPOS.

Francisco Pinto Balsemao, Pedro Norton, Henrique Monteiro and Monica Balsemao in Lisbon, and Mr. and Mrs. Angelopoulos, Mihalis Zaragatos, Paris Yiomamitis and the editors in Athens, deserve our gratitude.

This is visual journalism caviar!



CUSTOMER-SERVICE NIGHTMARE

Files under General | Feb 16th

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My computer was stolen this weekend from a bag checked with Delta on my flight from New York Kennedy to Norfolk.

So I have spent the last 48 hours on the phone with different parts involved in the claim.

This is the ranking of the customer service departments that I had to contact:

1. TSA, the United States Transportation Security Administration, which screens baggage: 120 minutes waiting for a “representative” until I hung up. A world record for lack of attention.

2. British Airways: My initial recorded message was returned in less than 15 minutes and they called me several times trying to help me. Good service.

3. Delta Airlines: They were also very nice and sensitive to a Gold Elite passenger.

4. Apple: They answered my phone call in less than 5 seconds. They found the original invoice in less than 30 seconds and e-mailed it to me before our conversation ended.

Well, I said to the Apple representative: Well done, you must be very proud of how well you treat your customers. Thank you very, very much. She was very moved when I told her about my terrible experience with the TSA.

Obama is going to fix the country, yes, but perhaps first he needs to fix the TSA “customer service,” and create new jobs to take care of us, the people who pay for this — oh well — let’s say, “service”.

Shame on them!