’60 to 70 percent of the job is changing culture’

‘The startup world is full of young people, money, and optimism. The media world, the vast majority of the time, is not.’

The words of an entrepreneurial young British journalist explaining why he has refused job offers from newspapers after he quit to launch his own news products. The quote comes from an insightful blog post by Kevin Anderson for the MediaBriefing, considering the challenges faced by newspapers trying to negotiate culture change.

The unnamed journalist – whose identity I can confidently guess, given how few truly entrepreneurial journalists there are in the UK scene right now – describes the “ball ache of trying to get anything done” at newspapers, prompting Anderson’s response:

“Legacy media, you’ve got a problem. The inability of media organisations to be nimble is becoming a competitive disadvantage in retaining exactly the kind of talent you most need to compete.”

Anderson cites the example of Clark Gilbert, the chief executive of Deseret News in Utah, who is credited with turning around the ailing paper and delivering 44 percent annual increases in digital revenue.

And in perhaps the most telling point, he quotes Gilbert telling Pew Research Journalism Project that 60 to 70 percent of his job is focused on changing culture.

As he says, that proves once again the adage ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.  And I would add, if the newspaper industry doesn’t start moving more quickly, the likes of Quartz, HuffPo and Buzzfeed will eat our breakfast too.

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