Anita Zielina’s keynote at this year’s MTP Engage Hamburg addresses the question of whether “product culture” can save the media industry. Anita, who is director of innovation and leadership at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, focuses on the underlying problem of how to change organizations that do not want to change and she shares exciting insights into the challenges of digital transformation at publishing houses, challenges which could easily apply to other not-yet disrupted industries.
Sales of daily newspapers have dropped by more than 50% since the early 90s, journalism therefore needs to find innovative ways to make money. Organization culture is key to a successful, competitive digital strategy.
Media Houses Struggle to Change Culture
Anita shares insights into why most media houses struggle to change their culture. She says it’s all about building a strong product culture that allows them to innovate and answer the following questions:
- What do you build?
- Who builds it?
- How do you build it?
- Why do you build it?
- When do you build it?
- How do you measure (success)?
She says that while user centricity and user data are central to all strategic decisions in user-centered tech companies and startups, journalists hunt for the next big scoop in a non-collaborative, glorified lone-wolf approach. A culture of failure does not come naturally to media organizations whose success is based on news coverage.
Without innovation failures you just can’t have innovation successes.
Anita also highlights a few examples that show successful change. Changing the organization’s mindset remains critical to building a rock-solid product culture essential for sustainable and successful growth. This is a tough but achievable change requirement, not only for the media industry but also for all other legacy organizations.