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Big media players are becoming more agile

August 26, 2010

About a week ago I posted my views on the current state of media fragmentation; Essentially, while there are thousands of providers of information currently out there, in the long run, we could expect to see from natural market forces that those who can’t make a profit – will subside, and the bigger players who actually own, produce and distribute good content and data will win out in the long run.

I promised at the time that I would do a bit more digging around, and before I could even start – John Hartigan, the man at the helm of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian empire, delivered an opening address to the PANPA conference that echoed the very same sentiments.

Hartigan spoke of how newspaper publishers should embrace new technologies as a means of ‘owning the agenda’ over merely setting it.  Acknowledging that consumers have an abundance of choice in media, he delivered the following few lines which I think sum up the media market today, particularly in Australia:

“It’s no longer size that matters, but our agility. Content will be king, but producing the best content won’t be enough on its own. Being first to market is an advantage, but it won’t confer advantage for long. We need to be first – with the best – continuously. First with the best content.  Everyday.”

This is a big call for a behemoth publisher like News Limited who for decades has used its might to rule the media scene, particularly in newspaper publishing.

Most importantly however, it acknowledges a core business tenet that many people in media seem to keep forgetting:

IF YOU CONSISTENTLY PRODUCE A GOOD PRODUCT THEN YOU WILL SUCCEED.

Having worked for 7 years with Rural Press and then Fairfax Media (when the two companies merged), something I learnt the value of early in my career was the importance of good content. Everything about the business focused on improving and enhancing the content to meet consumer needs. That alone was demonstrated just last night at the annual PANPA awards where three of Fairfax’s flagship newspapers were awarded best in class for the quality of content they produce, day in and day out.

For the media pundits out there, I’m not convinced that newspapers are dead either. We need to reposition our thinking of them as ‘newspaper publishers’ and start realising that they are enormous content and data producers with a heck of a lot more resource to build and sustain good applications and media that people will use.

In the long run, if behemoths like News Limited learn how to be agile, then the backyard application developers are going to have to step up to continue to compete.

Deliriant Isti Romani – These Romans are crazy!

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