Beyond the Horizon

JULY 2018

Enjoying the Summer?

Just this past week I heard a phrase attributed to Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix that I cannot get out of my mind:

“To disagree silently is disloyal!”

Chew on that for a minute.  What a fascinating statement!  Do you think it’s possible to extend that notion throughout an entire organization?  Could it apply to our relationships?  Could you act that out during meetings?

With that thought in mind, here’re some things I’ve been noodling over the last month>

What IF you knew the exact day – ok, let’s make it the month – you would lose your last print subscriber?  How would that impact your thinking and planning?  What would you do differently?  Would it make sense to act as if you DID KNOW - actually put that “date on the calendar” - then committed to doing whatever it would take to GROW the business?  Whatever It Would Take!  How else will newspapers/media fulfill our mission?

It hearkens back to the 16th century when explorer Hernán Cortés motivated his troops by burning their ships upon reaching the New World.  Maybe that’s exactly what we need?  A real, honest-to-goodness life-threatening crisis?  One would think the revenue, circulation and headcount declines of the past decade would be enough, but apparently that’s not the case?

Consider an email I just received from a well-regarded Publisher who just recently assumed new duties within another division of what was once an ALL newspaper business? (And, no, I will not say who it is!)

“As hard as I worked toward a path to save them (newspapers) I’m not sure it’s possible to save something from itself.”

What a shame!  As I see it, we’ve simply not done enough.  Too many operators are fooling themselves.  Let’s light the frigging ships on “fire” for our beleaguered industry if that’s what we need to do and let’s do so NOW!


  • There’s one well-known (correction: another!) newspaper company eliminating the Ad Director position in their smaller papers - those duties now fall to the Publisher.  That might be acceptable on a case-by-case basis, except there are many-a-Publisher who came up the ranks of the newsroom and we NEVER want them calling on customers.  Stoptheinsanity!
  • Another claims to be “digital first”, yet has fewer than 50,000 digital subscribers across nearly 40 titles – including a few major markets!  Whataretheysmoking?

Have we finally reached a tipping point?  A cut-so-much (people, content, etc.) and disillusioned so many that we’ve damaged our brand beyond repair and there’s no return?  If we’re not there, we ARE perilously close.

I say let’s get pissed off and rip-snorting mad and fight like Cortés’ men when their ships were burned.  What newspapers provide and their position within a democracy is too important and, by golly, IT IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

To all you leaders, bosses and C-Level executives out there I implore you:

IF you cannot get excited about working in a shrinking (only for the time being?) industry then at least get excited about doing something terribly important!  If it is to be, it is up to thee!

P.S.  Good news and less of a rant next month - I think!

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