Metaphors: Adam and Eve, horny teens, Titanic (again)

Priests, or going down with the Titanic
Jeff Jarvis, paraphrasing Howard Owens in The real sin: Not running businesses

Like priests looking for someone to sacrifice, Alan Mutter, Steve Buttry, Howard Owens, and Steve Yelvington have been on the lookout for the sin that led newspapers astray. For Mutter, it’s not charging; for Buttry, it’s not innovating; for Owens, it’s tying online dingies to print Titanics (my poetic license); for Yelvington, it’s inaction.

Teenagers experimenting with sex
David Armano, paraphrased in the Charlotte Observer

Keynote speaker David Armano told a spillover crowd that businesses on social media today are like teenagers experimenting with sex: They don’t know what to do, but they really want to do it. Then they’re disappointed when they finally get to do it.

Original Sin
Alan Mutter’s Mission possible? Charging for web content (with bonus TV Show title joke cliche)

It is going to be just as tough for publishers to overcome their Original Sin as it has been for mankind to get past the original Original Sin committed when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit.

Steve Buttry’s Newspapers’ Original Sin: Not failing to charge but failing to innovate

Mutter is right that newspapers are still paying for an Original Sin committed in the early days of the Internet, but he (along with the AP story and lots of newspaper executives today) chose the wrong sin.

Howard Owens’ The Newspaper Original Sin: Keeping online units tethered to the mother ship (with bonus spaceship metaphor giving it a Scientology quality)

The Original Sin was? Failure to create separate business units for online.

Steve Yellvington’s Original sin? I don’t think so, but ….

Having been on more than one side of that question, and having been one of the originals, I categorically reject the notion of any “original sin.”

Unless, of course, you think inaction is a sin.

Metaphors: Porn

The Adult Entertainment Industry
Jessica Pressler’s What the Newspaper Industry Can Learn from the Adult Entertainment Industry

A recent story in the L.A. Times takes a look at the struggling porn industry, which, like the newspaper industry, has been deeply affected by both the downturn and the changing technological landscape. DVD sales of porn have ground nearly to a halt, pay-per-view is down by nearly 50 percent, and websites behind pay walls are suffering as more and more amateur pornographers offer their work on the Internet for no cost. “We always said that once the Internet took off, we’d be OK,” the co-chairman of adult-industry giant Vivid Entertainment observed. “It never crossed our minds that we’d be competing with people who just give it away for free.”

Metaphors: Hummer, 1996 Honda

1996 Honda
Jim Barnett’s Why NYT Co. might not be as quick to sell the Globe as you might think at Nieman Journalism Lab

The Globe does cost a lot more than my Honda to operate. But the really big bucks — the $1.1 billion purchase price — is money long since spent. Just like the cost of a new car bought 13 years ago, there’s no way to recover anything close to the purchase price. I can tell by checking the Blue Book value.

General Motors’ Hummer
Steve Buttry’s AP contradiction: Move forward but restore

When I read the Associated Press “Protect, Point, Pay” plan, I think of the Hummer.

General Motors thought it was moving forward when it trotted out the massive sport-utility version of a military vehicle. The Hummer represented a lot of smart work by a lot of engineers and GM sold a lot of Hummers. It carried on a GM tradition of massive vehicles under the Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile brands. But how did the Hummer work out in the long run? How’s GM doing today? In a world threatened by climate change and in a nation dependent on oil from unstable regions, the Hummer was simply the wrong move.

Metaphors: Genie

A Loose Genie
Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore, quoted in Peter Kafka’s Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore: Let’s Put the Digital “Genie Back In the Bottle”

Poor John Squires. The Time Inc. SVP seems like an affable fellow. So what has he done to deserve this impossible task–figuring out a digital strategy for Time Warner’s (TWX) publishing unit? Or, to put it in Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore’s words, figuring out “how to put the genie back in the bottle”?

Metaphors: Migrating Tribe

A Migrating Tribe
Jay Rosen’s Migration Point for the Press Tribe

And like reluctant migrants everywhere, the people in the news tribe have to decide what to take with them, when to leave, where to land. They have to figure out what is essential to their way of life, and which parts were well adapted to the old world but may be unnecessary or a handicap in the new. They have to ask if what they know is portable. What life will be like across the digital sea is of course an unknown to the migrant. This creates an immediate crisis for the elders of the tribe, who have always known how to live.

Metaphors: A Café

A Café
Daniel Bachhuber’s Newsroom as a cafe

It’s not just about using a different industry to add to reporting revenue, but rather repositioning the news organization as the information hub for the community. The newsroom as a cafe should be an 18th century salon, or space for the leading discussions of the day to take place, ferment, and spawn action.

David Cohn’s Journalism Business Idea – the Newsroom Cafe

What I imagine is a newsroom that is also a cafe. Of course the reporters would have desks somewhere private to do work (a 2nd floor would be ideal), but the front of the newsroom would be a public space where people could get coffee, eat a bagel, use the wireless, etc. At least one reporter would be on-hand to talk with members of the public during business hours. These would be publicly announced “office hours.” We wouldn’t make a big pony-show of it, it would just be a part of the cafe’s appeal. You may just be hanging out – but perhaps you’ll end up in a news story!

Metaphors: Ships, Williamsburg

Last Ship Afloat and Colonial Williamsburg
Bill Keller, The New York Times‘ executive editor, and Jason Jones in The Daily Show‘s “End Times”

Keller: It’s always been one of the higher asperations in the business to work for The New York Times. Nowadays, we’re a little bit like the last ship afloat. So we have all these lifeboats floating around underneath us and people dying to clamber on board.

Jones: Your lifeboat is made of paper.

Jones: You guys are like a walking Colonial Williamsburg