Duck, duck, goose

If the Next Newsroom sounds familiar, it is. It borrows language from Newspaper Next (request the report; don’t republish), the “transformation project” financed by newspaper publishers. Both projects owe to Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen’s broadly applicable, 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma. The difference: the American Press Institute paid Christensen’s consulting company $2.5 million to repurpose his case studies; JTM organizer Chris Peck bought the book. ($12.21 for the paperback at Amazon). Never mind that Christensen famously forecast the demise of the newspaper industry. His company, Innosight, happily competes for consulting engagements to help fix the industry.

The situation reminds me of the fertilizer problem at my golf course. We hire an enterprising service called Birds-B-Gone to chase away the flock of geese that summers by the lake on the 16th Hole. Trained dogs cause the geese to fly off to a nearby course. That course then hires the same service to chase them back to ours. Birds-B-Gone gets good both ways.

Though they share terminology, the two Next projects come from different parts of the goose: JTM from the heart, Newspaper Next from the, ah, wallet. The competing initiatives, both aimed in some way at saving newspapers, exacerbate the rift among journalists and publishers about solving a common problem. Only the goose-chasers make out.

Dale Peskin

Dale is co-founder emeritus of We Media.

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