New technologies have always changed the way people consume news.  kindle-dxProfessional communicators and PR folks realize this.

From the printing press (thanks Johanes Gutenberg) to radio to television to cable television to the internet.  And, now, how it gets to us through different devices (desktops, laptops, handhelds, E-readers, etc.) via the internet. 

Technology is again changing the way more and more of us consume news as former newspaper companies become “media” companies who realize that they better adapt, again, or die.

I want to share two experiences this week that emphasize, to me at least , that change is certain and change is good and how we adapt to change is what determines our success or failure.

I had the opportunity to have a brief lunchtime conversation with Margaret Buchanan, Publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  When I commented on how challenging running a newspaper must be, she quickly reminded me that she was running a media company.

Her point? “Enquirer Media” (as she referred to it) is adapting to the different ways people consume news.  She proudly referenced the fact that “Enquirer Media” has more than 50 different “products” to reach consumers, one of which is the newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer.

In addition to Cincinnati.com (the number one portal for this market), “Enquirer Media” has many other online products, and watching the development of the new E-Reader.  (See the stories today in the New York Times  and Wall Street Journal about the release of Amazon’s new Kindle DX.)

Fair enough.

This past week in Cincinnati, Bill Burleigh retired as Chairman of the Board of the E.W. Scripps Co.  Talk about change, he’s seen it all.  Burleigh had been in the news business for 58 years.  He’s 74 (and a young 74 at that).

While I couldn’t find online the print story I read about Burleigh’s retirement (one failing of Cincinnati.com), I recall he was quoted as paraphrasing Mark Twain when he declared that, “the news of print’s death was premature”.  (I did find another, abbreviated, story.)

Burleigh added that he had witnessed changes driven by technology before and everyone claimed that newspapers were through then, just as they claim they are dying now.  He’s not buying it.

First of all, I like Bill Burleigh and his optimism and vision.  I also like Margaret Buchanan’s energy and innovative spirit and the fact that “Enquirer Media” is way more than a newspaper.  I especially like newspapers – the print kind – as an important part of my morning routine. 

These two media leaders are from different generations, and they both think a lot about how to attract consumers from yet different generations. 

One has lead a media company through many changes, and I suspect he feels those changes have been good for news consumption. The other is now leading  a media organization through a period of dramatic and rapid change, and I think she believes it will be good for news consumption.

I think so, too.  But, I just don’t think I’ll enjoy as much drinking my Starbuck’s with an E-reader as I do with a little bit of newsprint on my fingertips.

What do you think?

Post by Nick Vehr – 5.7.09

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