Business of News

A real-life parable for our times

So we have two media companies. Both are wildly successful and make a lot of money. They have all the customers they could want. And then the media landscape begins to change. One company stands pat and believes that it offers such a valuable and appreciated service that it will weather the storm. Or to paraphrase TARP terminology, it is “too valuable to fail.” The other company realizes that it does not have to change the product it delivers, only come up with a new delivery system while still keeping the old product. Which newspapers are we talking about? Not newspapers – Netflix and Blockbuster. Netflix is still in the movie business, but changed from being a send-it-in-the-mail business to a video on demand leader. Blockbuster went bankrupt and got swallowed up by Dish Network, which is itself in trouble. There are definitely lessons here for the newspaper industry.

By Kathryn Jones Malone

Kathryn Jones Malone is co-director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism. She began her career as a staff writer at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, then worked as a staff writer for the Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News; as a contract writer for The New York Times; as a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly magazine; as editor of the Glen Rose Reporter; and as a freelance writer for numerous state, regional and national magazines. She teaches journalism at Tarleton State University.