I recently worked on a project that involved examining the history of the newpaper industry's interaction with the challenges of the digital revolution and innovation over the past 20 years. Painful memories, for those of us who were there from the start—we've seen a lot of self-inflicted wounds and crappy executives. And I realized that the chronology of the past couple of decades of newspaper-think boils down to a few key milestones (or is it millstones?) that go something like this:
1995: This Internet thing? Just a fad. The CB radio of the '90s.
1998: Oh wow–we may have missed the boat on the Internet.
2000: Ha! We were right! Just a fad! Phew! All is well!
2005: Are newspapers a great business, or what??
2008: Oh shit
2012: Help! We'll do whatever you tell us to do! Just make it stop!!
It's not going to stop, of course. The change going on right now in the news business is the greatest story we'll ever see up close—the complete transformation of an industry. But unless newspaper leaderships break out of this cycle of naivete and arrogance and fear, pronto, the next entry in my chronology may be R.I.P.