SIX DS TO WIN THE RED QUEEN’S RACE: THE DISRUPTION OF ONLINE JOURNALISM

Todays competition in many industries is like the Red Queen’s race: “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”. This chapter of Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking-Glass (1871),describes the situation in which Alice is chased by the Red Queen and even though she is constantly running, she is only remaining the same spot. This symbolises the fierce race of competition in the current economy, as companies must pull out all the stops, just to stay relevant in the market.

When the book was written, in 1871, the solution to get rid of the Red Queen was to run twice as fast, but in todays economy you should run twice as smart to win the race. In an economy where disruption is not an exception anymore, you are always one innovation away from getting wiped out (Armit & Zott, 2012)

While you are reading this article on consumervaluecreation.com, you are actually the witness of the outcome of the disruptive transformation of journalism. How did journalism transform from a mass production of  newspapers and magazines to an extensive supply of co-created platforms like this? Diamandis and Kotler (2016), from the Singularity University have developed a chain reaction of Six Ds, which lead to exponential growth and disruption. There are six key steps in exponential growth of an organization: digitization, deception, disruption, demonetization, dematerialization and democratization.

Figure 1: A visual representation of the 6 Ds

Digitization

A few decades ago, journalism existed of the mass production of physical newspapers and magazines. It provided the reader with a limited amount of identical information, which was in a fixed ordering sold to the mass market. With the rise of the internet, journalism is no longer based on pressing longitudinal articles in a magazine, but by sharing the information represented in ones and zeros, journalism has changes into a technology and entered the exponential growth.

Deception

When something is digitized, the initial period of growth is deceptive. As it is an exponential growth, it takes very long before you grow from 0,01 to 2, but 2 quickly becomes 16, which becomes 16.000 impressively fast. Internet already existed in 1990, the first commercial newspaper was online in 1996 (Van de Heijden, 2019), and the first weblog (also called blog) in The Netherlands went life in 1997, but the online journalism is only booming since 2013 (Bakker, 2018).

Figure 2: Deception and Disruption

Disruption

A market is disrupted when the new technology for the niche market becomes regular for the mainstream customers and therefore outperforms the established alternatives (Christensen, 1997). Disruption takes place when something is underperforming in first dimension, but overperforming in the secondary dimension.

The first dimension is based on the elements that are highly valued by the mainstream customer. For journalism these elements were especially the guaranteed quality of the news and the articles, trust based on expertise and having a physical newspaper or magazine of paper. In the traditional way of journalism, these aspects were captured and online journalism is underperforming on these aspects as everyone can post something on the web, there is no guarantee of objectivity or quality.

Before the existence of online journalism, it took at least twelve hours before a happening could be shared via the newspapers or flyers. Nowadays, events are spread before you know it, and it is a matter of seconds before the whole world has access to the news. Also, in the case of physical magazines and newspapers, the customer cannot personalize what articles are in there and therefore the customers pays for content they are not interested in. Via the internet the customer is not paying for the articles they are not reading. This are the two main secondary dimension aspects in which the online journalism is overperforming compared to the traditional journalism.

As the preferences of the mainstream market are changing and the boundaries are moving, online journalism is becoming more and more present in the market. This is resulting in less and les official journalist (Oremus, 2018) and more journalistic online platforms.

Figure 3: The amount of digital newspapers in the Netherlands on national (black) and regional (pink) level per year (Bakker, 2018).

As the platforms introduces a self-controlling mechanism, there is an increasing quality guarantee and as the social norms are changing, the trust-issues are decreasing. The online journalism disrupted the market.

Demonetization

Money is increasingly detached from the reckoning as online journalism becomes cheaper or even free. Nowadays, customers use the web and with a few clicks they will find a dozen of articles of their interest without paying anything. On the other hand, publishing an article used to be very expensive as it had to be checked by several people, printed on paper and then distributed to the market, but online people can upload their article or blog for a small amount of money or even for free.

Dematerialized

The magazine- and newspaper-publishers that pressed their items and distributed their product via the mailman are now focussing on their online versions and offering subscriptions on their online version only. In this way the expensive mass production is replaced by an app on the smartphone, all fitting in pocket of every customer.

Democratized

The more and more people have access to it and the broadcast of news and articles is no longer only for large organizations, but for everyone. Through online platforms, everyone with access to the web can become a journalist. This could also be seen as the outsourcing of the task of writing articles, by creating microtasks the crowd becomes the source of journalism (Tsekouras, 2019). This also includes the counterpart; as journalism is cheap and often even for free, reading news and articles is no longer for the wealthy, but for the mass market with access to internet. Business functions are no longer product-centric, but changed toward a customer-centric approach (Vargo and Lusch, 2004).

In conclusion we could state Red Queen’s Race of journalism is won by the digital platforms. By running in a smart way, though the six Ds of Diamandis and Kotler (2016), platforms like consumervaluecreation.com will be leading in the market of journalism and therefore escape from the Red Queen.

References

Armit, R. & Zott, Chr. (2012) Creating Value Through Business Model Innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 53 (3), 41-49.

Bakker, P. (2018, April 18). Digitale oplage kranten blijft fors stijgen. Retrieved from Stimuleringsfons voor de Journalistiek: https://www.svdj.nl/de-stand-van-de-nieuwsmedia/digitale-oplage-kranten-stijgen/

Carroll, L. (1871). Through the Looking-Glass.

Christensen, C.M. (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to   Fail. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Diamandis, P.H. & Kotler, S. (2016). Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Oremus, F. (2018, October 4). Verhouding communicatieprofessionals-journalisten. Wat zeggen de cijfers? Retrieved from Villamedia: https://www.villamedia.nl/artikel/verhouding-communicatieprofessionals-journalisten.-wat-zeggen-de-cijfers

Tsekouras, D. (2019, Februari 14). Customer Centric Digital Commerce Lecture 3.

Van der Heijden, Chr. (2019, February 24). 25 jaar digitale transitie van de journalistiek 1: Opmaat. Retrieved from Journalismlab: https://www.journalismlab.nl/25-jaar-digitale-transitie-van-de-journalistiek/

Vargo, S.L. and Lusch, R.F. (2004), Evolving to a new dominant logic for marketing, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 68, (1), 1‐17.

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