January 3, 2018

Becoming a Digital-First Organization & The Shifting Landscape of Media – with Shelby Coffey

On this episode of The Innovation Engine, we’ll be looking at the evolution of media. We discuss how media companies, or any company really, can make the leap to becoming a digital-first organization, why now is actually a good time to be in the media business (despite everything you may read and hear to the contrary), and what media consumption will look like a decade from now – or our assumptions about what that consumption will look like.

Listen to the Episode

If you’re interested in hearing more, tune in to the full episode below:

Joining us to talk about that and more is Shelby Coffey, now Vice Chair of the Newseum. Shelby has had a long and distinguished career in the news business: he was Executive Vice President at ABC News in New York, News Chief at CNNfn, Editor of The Los Angeles Times, and held editorial positions with the Dallas Times Herald, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post. In 2001, he was named a Fellow of the Freedom Forum, the parent organization of the Newseum, where he has studied and written about the media and First Amendment issues.


What does a company need to thrive in the increasingly competitive media space?

  • An element of visionary leadership. People like Jeff Bezos are interested not just in solving a problem, but in exploiting an opportunity. The opportunity focus characterizes a lot of the people who are the winners in the digital space.
  • Nimbleness (or agility): speed in adapting, and a willingness to change if adaptation is wrong.
  • Individuals from old media companies will have different assumptions about consumption and the media than individuals from native digital companies – this gives native digital companies a considerable advantage.
  • At the same time, the digital native employee is becoming increasingly valuable. Some people are able to adapt as the world shifts, but it’s not necessarily the same.
  • Studying the competitors, and also having a future-focused mindset, is extremely important.
  • Every company should consider itself a media company because of the vast range of platforms and methods of communicating. You have to be out telling your story or your competitors will exceed you, and maybe tell your story in a negative way.

Monetization for media companies is changing – how is the industry shifting, and what can companies do to adapt?

  • The old gatekeeper world of big networks, big television, and big newspapers depended happily on a near-monopoly ability to funnel in a high-demographic audience.
  • Now there are so many competitors, on so many different levels, competing for “the precious commodity of attention and it’s handmaiden persuasion.” The result is a revenue world that is mutating almost as fast as the media themselves because advertisers are looking at what will continue to draw specific attention.
  • One challenge for the news media world is that the creativity and range of how to get advertising-supported news coverage is not consonant with the actual news-gathering abilities – We need new specialists.
  • No matter how brilliant you are, or how nimbly you adapt, you can’t outrun the market. This article from Business Insider highlights how the digital world is affecting advertising: “In 2000, ad revenue at newspapers was $63.5 billion. It fell to $23 billion by 2013,” while Google’s ad revenue grew from less than $1 billion to over $50 billion in that same time.


About The Innovation Engine

Since 2014, 3Pillar has published The Innovation Engine, a podcast that sees a wide range of innovation experts come on to discuss topics that include technology, leadership, and company culture. You can download and subscribe to The Innovation Engine on Apple Podcasts. You can also tune in via the podcast’s home on Spotify to listen online, via Android or iOS, or on any device supporting a mobile browser.