Tom Mohr, who used to run Knight Ridder’s digital efforts and is now ensconced at ASU and Charles River Ventures, calls out the newspaper industry in a major piece in Editor & Publisher. He posits that the newspaper industry needs the equivalent of a “Marshall Plan” and needs to get over its internal disputes and work together.
It is instructive that after twelve years of the consumer web, not a single example of breakthrough online innovation has emerged out of a newspaper company. Not in recruitment. Not in auto. Not in classifieds. Not in shopping, directory, new ad models, or content aggregation.
He imagines a company, Switzerland Inc., that works on behalf of all newspapers.
But what if 2/3 or more of the U.S. newspaper industry sits on one platform, managed by Switzerland Inc.? What if Switzerland Inc. decides to deny Yahoo! and perhaps Google access to newspaper industry content for three months, followed by a negotiation for better terms?
That’s the power of a network.
I can’t imagine it ever happening, but Mohr’s got a point. Federation is the way to go….