Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2015 Contents to something that looks
like it s powered by a
There is growing
momentum behind the
idea that you can t avoid
the commitment, but it
hasn t become mortally pressing in T&T just yet.
That buys media houses time, the most valuable
asset you can hope for in any migration from atoms
to bits. According to Alexa s rankings of traffic (currently
30 days old), trinidadexpress.com holds the top spot
at 27,468 globally and is #11 in T&T.
This newspaper s guardian.co.tt is at 45,972, and
#21 locally, while newsday.co.tt is at 64,814 and 31.
Alexa only ranks the top 100,000 websites in the
world, so showing up on the global list is a big deal.
The New York Times is at 110, the UK Guardian
(theguardian.com) is at 140 while the more populist
dailymail.co.uk is at 107.
Any traditional media house is an aggregation of
several components that are not unfamiliar to any
business owner. You have staff, you have plant and
you have a process that marries the two into a system
that generates profit.
At the core of modern media is a process that works
assiduously to disaggregate the two with new processes.
The plant becomes a series of interlinked computers,
the most important of which often aren t even owned
by the business, but instead are leased through pay-
ments to hosting services.
But for an established media house, there eventually
comes a point where you have to leap from a sinking
ship to a new vessel and you have to do so with the
chains of the existing business wrapped firmly around
How, exactly, do you prepare for that?
First, you need to forge a new relationship with
your journalists. The employee-employer relationship
works just fine in the old system of plant and process,
but collapses in the face of Internet consumption.
What media houses need are journalists who are both
digital natives, no matter how recently transplanted,
who are also entrepreneurs keen to work the space,
helping with their every digital action to sell the
product. So, no more blocking Facebook and Twitter
at work, and eventually, no more showing up for work
since what you need is appealing and informative con-
tent, not friends around the watercooler.
While you re doing that, you need to reestablish a
new relationship with your audience. The best way
to do that is to create an online brand that plays to
the acknowledged strengths of the media house and
puts those assets at the tip of the digital spear.
This is the exact opposite of the traditional newspaper
approach which creates a curated product that seeks
to meet all reader needs. Nobody goes to the Internet
for that. On Alexa, the rigorously focused local website
trinituner.com enters the charts globally at 43,546
and is ranked 14 in T&T.
Begin the process of making your archives accessible.
A publication or broadcaster of record which has no
deep public-facing collection of its own coverage is
failing the second responsibility of journalism, reporting
it being the first.
This calls for a significant change in approach. When
I first began freelancing for a newspaper, I wandered
into the paste-up room to find yards of text generated
by typesetters. This material was painstakingly fitted
around the ads and stuck into place by a gummy glue
on a roller was called "matter."
For decades, the work of journalism has been seen
as producing the daily product, but the most valuable
asset of any media house is all that matter it s been
producing (and tossing into a backroom) over the
decades. Rescuing this material and presenting it as
bits will be crucial to creating the kind of authority
that makes for a resonant online resource.
These aren t solutions to the money problem, but
they are crucial to being a successful player in the
new information marketplace.
If you don t show up for the dance, no advertiser
is going to ask you for a set.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Anyone creating or moving a pub-
lication online quickly discovers the
challenge is not journalism, it s money.
Peter Drucker s axiom regarding busi-
ness holds true. Many decades ago the
famed management consultant opined:
"The business of business is business."
And that business is lubricated by
money, or, more accurately, profit.
Without profit, a business is a hobby,
a doomed venture, a pie floating rather
unrealistically in the sky.
So there s that immutable fact.
And journalism of any kind cannot
exist without income and serious jour-
nalism costs serious money.
I ve had at least one media manager
look me in the eye after I answered the
question of what to do with their pub-
lication online in detail and depth and
say with great gravity and unquestioned
sincerity, "I can t do that. I can t risk
the (significant six-figure income) that
I get from advertising every day."
I never discussed the matter again,
but I never forgot the brusque serious-
ness on that manager s face.
It s a rock and a hard place problem.
How do you unhook your fortunes from
a profitably-running engine to tie them
Dear future media house
It's been decades since a newspaper has been
printed using letterpress type but too many of
today's mediahouses use procedures that began in
that era. PHOTO BY FRANCK BOSTON/DEPOSITPHOTOS
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