Strategy is about choice, which market, customer, technology, and so on.
Never has this black and white choice been so stark a challenge as in publishing, as the established operators struggle to find profitability in the electronic age.
Fairfax in Australia recently announced a record loss of 2.7 billion dollars, a continuance of their recent performance, on top of a series restructuring announcements and a precipitous drop in the share price over the last couple of years. They are not alone in the world of print media.
However, all is not lost. A few weeks ago I heard the editor of the “New Yorker” Henry Finder being interviewed on Sydney radio, a whimsical interview, but the astonishing difference is that the New Yorker is thriving in the new digital environment.
Instead of chasing the commodity, fluffy stories available anywhere, the magazine is going deeper into stories, rewarding readers with superior journalism and a range of views not available elsewhere.
They made a choice, not just to be different to everyone else, but to do it in a way that is consistent with the history and culture of the magazine.
My revered old mentor, Jim Hagler, scion of Harvard Square said to me almost 40 years ago “son, create a niche and then OWN it”. Jim had never heard of the internet, or the disruption it would bring publishing, but his wisdom still holds, and the New Yorker has listened. Wisdom has a context, but it remains wise.