Quit yer complainin’!

Two recent developments in the print world are worth a closer look. The Newspaper Association of America says online audiences for newspapers grew by about six percent in 2007. According to an Associated Press article:

Web sites run by newspapers had an average of 60 million unique U.S. visitors per month in 2007, up from 56.4 million the year before, according to data released by Newspaper Association of America and compiled by Nielsen Online, a Web audience measurement agency owned by The Nielsen Co.

That translates into about 38% of all online users visiting newspaper sites. What struck me was one line in the article which called the data “a rare bit of good news for an industry struggling to adapt as readers and advertising dollars continue to migrate online.”

That reminded me of a quote from James O’Shea’s, the recently fired editor of the LA Times. He told that the newsroom that “the biggest challenge” facing the industry was overcoming “this pervasive culture of defeat, the psychology of surrender that accepts decline as inevitable.”

It is curious that a profession that routinely tackles the world’s most difficult issues (Iraq, global warming, world hunger) with total confidence in its ability to eventually help find solutions, seems reluctant to apply those skills to saving itself!

Perhaps journalists should take a page from the sales department – have you ever heard a great sales person say anything other than “business is terrific?”

Now, I’m not really advocating the Pollyanna approach, but I think journalists – whether print, broadcast or online – should spend more time thinking about the best way to get their best work out in front of the biggest audiences – no matter where they are.

The great sales people will figure out how to sell it.


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