Print Media and the Valley of Death

It is of no shock to anyone that traditional forms of media are floundering in the increasingly-digital media landscape.  As print advertisement values continue to sink and circulation numbers fall, companies that rely heavily on print media continue to suffer.  But why aren’t these companies abandoning their print ventures for the inevitable transition to media?

A recent Gigaom.com article by Mathew Ingram describes the Catch-22-like situation for traditional media companies.  Ingram says that companies are caught between managing their existing business–which, though slipping, still provides much of the companies revenue–and creating new, digital business ventures.  

In Clay Christensen’s book “Innovator’s Dilemma”, he describes ‘the Valley of Death’ a little more in detail:

“They have been trapped in a terrible mindset that they are in the business of selling newspapers. The leap from paper to digital may be vast, but to newspaper publishers, it seemed like vaulting to a different business entirely, one they were loathe to get into [and so]…They get caught in the Valley of Death… Instead of innovating for the next business cycle, these companies die crossing the Valley, wringing every last drop of cash out of the last cycle.”

A recent LinkedIn research poll found that while online publishing is one of the fastest growing industries, newspapers are the slowest.  Abandoning a reliable revenue-stream for a less-profitable venture leaves companies broke and vulnerable, but also distracts them from their digital projects.  It is for this reason, Ingram says, that digital-native media, such as HuffPost, will always win out over traditional forms of media.

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