Helping the Newspaper Industry See into the Future

Randy Bennett, a friend and industry colleague for more than 20 years, ran an interesting project at the Newspaper Association of America during his time as a vice president.  Randy created the Horizon Watching initiative, with the hopes of being a ‘early warning’ system for newspaper executives.

Task-force participants, including newspaper executives and NAA associate members, set out to help publishers understand the external strategic forces that will shape the future of their industry.

I was delighted to serve on the committee. It was an interesting group to work with and I loved looking at the future.  I’m not sure the group got a chance to make the impact that I hoped would be possible. Presstime, the NAA publication, wrote about the project about a year after it started.

Changing indicators mean different things in different markets. “There is no right answer,” said Howard Finberg, director of technology and information strategies at Central Newspapers Inc. in Phoenix. The important point, from the task-force perspective, is to grapple with the indicators and create a process for dealing with their business consequences.

I did argue this point as well, often in various meetings:

“We’re trying to challenge the industry to think differently,” Finberg explained, adding, “We have no right to survive.”