20
Jul
08

We don’t do soy at this newspaper

I was watching the Tour De France the other day. Mike’s Hard Lemonade is a major sponsor of the coverage on VS. They have a commercial where an employee, Joey, shows off his drawing for a new version of their product. Mike’s Hard double-caffeinated soy lemonade. The boss is walking by when Joey proudly displays his conception of the new product.

“Joey, what you got there,” he asks. Joey hands him the paper. He crumples it and throws it at Joey. “We don’t do soy.”

After seeing the ad, I couldn’t help but think : That place seems a lot like some newspapers at which I’ve worked.

As Jeff Jarvis notes at his blog, the old guard at newspapers has made a fine art out of killing innovation from within. Which is really bad now that innovation from without is killing newspapers.

Steve Yelvington echoes this in a post titled — What drives away young, talented journalists:

We have an acute need to adapt journalism — and especially newspapers — to the societal changes brought by new technology, and to do that, we need the energy, optimism and willingness to try something new that comes with being young.But Northwestern University’s Vickey Williams observes:

“My work on changing culture in newsrooms shows that young journalists intend to leave because the pace of change is too slow. (Report here). They are turned off by the tendency of veteran journalists to argue down new ideas, cling to old ways, and avoid risks.”

Here is one comment at Yelvington:

The change, if you can call it that, I’ve seen at many newspapers is really, really slow. It hasn’t been resistance from veterans as it is institutional. Changes have to be researched, discussed, forgotten about, discussed more then implemented in small, small steps. Sllllllloow change must be a relic of being a monopoly. Meanwhile, the business continues to not-so-slowly lose money and readers.

Innovation at one place I worked was an almost five year process that ended with almost nothing being changed. Almost a year after we began with formal meetings intended to result in real change we sat down for the final session at which all the ideas and proposed initiatives were brought up for discussion. Every one was shot down. Blogs — don’t need ’em. Changing coverage priorities — you can’t take that away from my department. Ramping up to a 24-hour news operation — I guess, as long as none of my people has to come in earlier or go home later.

Afterward, people in the newsroom went back to talking about how newspapers are just in a down cycle and will bounce back, or they lamented that newspapers ever got involved with the internet at all. Little was learned and only slightly more got changed.

I say once again: I have met the enemy and he is us.

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1 Response to “We don’t do soy at this newspaper”


  1. May 9, 2014 at 2:49 pm

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