Tom Mohr, president of Knight-Ridder Digital, added, "I sometimes don't think we have fully come to terms with the degree to which we need to undergo transformational change in order to be in a defensible position for the next five to 20 years."
I wonder if newspapers have been hearing this message for so long that they don't hear it anymore. At the Interactive Newspapers Conference 10 years ago in February of 1995, keynote speaker Uzal Martz, president of the Pottsville Republican and vice chair of the NAA, told the 700 people in the audience, "The only certainty is a rapidly accelerating pace of change of everything around us including the technology…we must change, adapt or die."
Not only is classified advertising being hit by new products with more value to consumers, but display ads are being hurt by the mergers of big advertisers like Sears/K-Mart and SBC/AT&T. Meanwhile, readership is declining.
Aggressive newspapers that are willing to change are joining with partners (CareerBuilder.com) or developing their own verticals like Cox's AutoTrader.com, but too many papers are managing their business to maximize short-term cash flow.