Innovators Dilemma Predicted The Demise and Fall of Old Media

The old school media death rattle is getting louder. Once trusted sources of information, local newspapers are either shutting down or dramatically scaling back their operations. In the process, they’re losing most of their main asset: community influence. That’s what really matters. Websites and social media will not bail them out. A New York Times best seller titled The Innovator’s Dilemma predicted that outcome back in 1997; market leaders typically can’t innovate.

Here along the South Jersey shore, the declining Press of Atlantic City has placed more emphasis on crime, soft news and press releases. This stuff is easy to collect. Just repackage and quickly push out to an audience already drowning in content. That’s not a good business to be in, my friend.

Being a community watchdog is no longer something the Press of Atlantic City and the Philadelphia Inquirer, once great publications, can afford to do.

It’s sad really. Even coverage of blockbuster stories, those that once made headlines, are now passed over for safe & cheap puff pieces. To be fair, we think some stories get axed due to the subject matter involved. No need to embarrass elected officials and major advertisers who don’t take kindly to unfavorable editorial. We understand their dilemma. They’re trapped. We like that.

This conundrum local newspaper and news radio faces is a god send. Independent media upstarts like and are glad to fill the void. WordPress made that effort relatively easy and affordable.

Hyper-Local websites will succeed if they help enable commerce.

Sigh. How easy it was to forget the REAL reason why Newspaper, TV & Radio got financed and supported. Enabling commerce. Yup. The simple act of connecting product & service providers with a willing consumer. That’s all. Everything else is just filler in between. Content, audio, video, etc. Program directors and newsroom editors became so full of themselves, they forgot the root of their business and who they ultimately serve.

Consider content as a loss leader. Select content & business models based on ability to reduce easy replication and digital rip-offs. Is your content likely to be of little or NO interest to Google & Amazon? As your business gains momentum, will they want to borrow/steal/scarf up your product offering? If not, you’re on the right track.

What do local customers really need?

  • Assistance at getting found online
  • Marketing and PR help
  • Low-cost, easy to manage system for advertising & marketing
  • Less reliance on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & Instagram.
  • More focus on client controlled platforms: Website & Email database.

Uncanny how everything posited by Clayton Christensens “The Innovator’s Dilemma” published in 1997, eventually comes true.

No matter how fantastical. No matter if a scrappy little WordPress blog evolves into a full blown CMS Content Management System that scales and gives off plenty of Google juice.

All the while major print & broadcast operations sign multi-year contracts with clunky web platforms that are little more than glorified WordPress sites with proprietary bloat baked in.

As Clayton warns, when you’re the market leader, it’s virtually impossible to take your eyes off the cash-flow ball.

Like golden handcuffs, even as the threat is clearly nipping at your ankles, market forces and monthly nuts keep you locked into short term objectives.

But one day, it’s too late. You find that your ability to pivot is gone. Someone else is enjoying first mover advantage in the space you would normally dominate.

That little piece of garbage website, the tiny start-up competitor you ignored for years, just snagged another of your A-level advertisers.

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