Why newspapers are likely to die as we know them

By Steve Outing

The headline of this item was also the subject line of an e-mail I received today from Frank Pecarich, a retired management consultant who has been watching the newspaper industry lately with incredulity. In advance of this Thursday’s private summit of 50 newspaper company CEOs at the American Press Institute, I share Pecarich’s observation as something for that group to think about:

“As a retired management consultant, there is something terribly wrong with the management and executive decision making model for most newspapers. The correction process (action research model) calls for an appropriate management system response to an accurate critique of the management system or process. In the management literature as well as in my experience, it is clear that those organizations who fail to ‘correct course’ after receiving clear indications from the market to correct themselves, ultimately fail. This is happening almost daily as newspapers are cutting staff and in so doing, totally curbing their capability to produce a quality product and thereby even have a chance to survive. The result is an ever deepening and ever tightening death spiral.”

Pecarich also shared this diagram:

What do you think? I find it hard to argue with Pecarich’s appraisal of the situation. But is there still time for newspaper industry leaders to make necessary course corrections? Is the industry just waiting for the “catastrophic event” that will force an abrupt transformation to stave off extinction?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!