We need plans, not prayers

I like (mis)quoting Edward Miller, who once said that saying “I want better writing in this section” isn’t a plan, it’s a prayer, and one that’s unlikely to be answered.

Well, the media is full of those these days, from Dean Singleton to Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch just told Rueters that people will be paying for newspaper content on the Web, saying premium content will be available and widely-accepted.  That’s easy for him to say: people already pay for the premium news that the Wall Street Journal offers.

But would you be willing to pay for the gossip columns in the New York Post? I’ll admit to reading them occasionally, but I wouldn’t pay for them.

In fact, what kind of premium content does Murdoch think newspapers will be able to offer? Media companies are shedding editorial jobs at an alarming rate. That means fewer people to report and write those premium stories.

I’m the first to admit there’s no good business model about making money online, though some people have interesting ideas.

But those are least something approaching a plan. They have actionable steps, goals and metrics.

Both Murdoch and Singleton have promised new and exciting content without ever saying what it would be. They’ve both also cut jobs. Those two things aren’t compatible.

Very few media companies have figured out how to charge for their content, and it hasn’t been for lack of trying. How about trying something different?

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