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    (March 01, 2002) - We've seen our commentary on the newspaper industry's investment behavior and other aspects of the defensive maneuvers written off as "piffle". We think it's pretty standard for a siege mentality universe to dismiss the message and the messenger. What's surprising (and we guess many people aren't getting out to see these things) is that the industry itself agrees with us. 

    The worst part of changing a culture is figuring out how to reach through the omniscient middle managers. These are the people who make the mistakes, really. The very senior leadership gets it. Quite often the troops get it. It's the guys in the middle who are hanging on to their jobs for dear life who need to keep their blinders on. "If I ignore it, it might go away."

    At the recent Interactive Newspapers Conference & Trade Show, held in San Jose each year, futurist Paul SAffo told the audience:

    • The newspaper industry failed miserably in its first go-round with the Internet -- indeed, newspaper executives' performance in figuring out a credible, profitable model to participate in the Internet boom was "criminal." "There's a whole generation of newspaper executives who should be fired," said Saffo, because they could only see new media through an old-media lens.
    • We (in developed countries) are well on the road to the point where digital consumption of information will be greater than consumption of printed information. No, paper isn't going anywhere, but it will soon be overtaken. (As Saffo put it, horses didn't disappear when automobiles were introduced, but they weren't used as much for transportation.)
    • The newspaper industry, in particular, is well positioned to take advantage of the next wave. But it will require taking risks and striking out to find what's on the horizon -- and embracing it. 

      -From Editor and Publisher Weekly

    It wasn't just a futurist, the Conference focused on the failure of the old players to understand the new media as it is. The sad part of the story is that the industry's cash cow never even came up. Recruitment Advertising, rapidly being destroyed as a central profit maker is still seen as ancillary to the business by its internal players.

    Again, we'd suggest that any newspaper executive who can make a pilgrimage to the Monster headquarters. There, you can see the future even if you can't understand it. 

    - John Sumser

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