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April 5, 2007 / Toby Dayton

All Newspapers Should Emulate The Washington Post

A great article appeared yesterday in Knowledge@Wharton that details the success the Washington Post has had over the past decade in transitioning to a more web-centric business model. The article, entitled ‘Web V. Print: Online Successes At One Newspaper Raises More Questions Than They Answer‘ details the challenges faced by newspapers today and then proceeds to outline the strategic and tactical steps that Donald Graham, Chairman and CEO, has taken to remain competitive in a wildly shifting environment. Graham understood early on what impact the web was going to have on his business, and the path he has taken diverges markedly from that taken by most other daily papers around the country.

Graham diversified into other business models well before anyone else, going beyond simply acquiring TV stations to compliment the newspaper. He not only embraced the web thoroughly, but also recognized appropriately that in order to compete and win on the web, you have to play by the web’s new, constantly shifting rule book – content will migrate towards free, web readers will most likely be different from print readers, technology creates unique formats and opportunities to publish and distribute content, readers can develop quality content, and engagement and interactivity are paramount. Perhaps most importantly, Graham adopted a more typical web-oriented business philosophy based upon accelerated execution of new ideas and continuous experimentation and improvement. While fierce challenges remain, the results have clearly paid off and the Washington Post will undoubtedly be one of the successful survivors after most other dailies have disappeared.

Time to read the daily newspaper this morning: 10 minutes and 40 seconds.

Daily recommendation for the dailies: Firmly commit to aggressive experimentation.

[tags]Death of Newspapers, Successful Daily Newspapers, Print v. Web, New Media, Washington Post, Slate Magazine, Publishing, Daily Newspapers, Donald Graham[/tags]