Overcoming Your Brand

I meant to write about a something I read a couple of weeks ago and of course I forgot about it.  Better late than never, hopefully.

The piece was a blog published by NPR about  readership of media outlet websites.  As it turns out, users are turning to websites belonging to cable TV news ahead of websites for newspapers.  I wasn’t really surprised but it raised a thought I’d like to share and about which I’d like to get your take.

This was the relevant quote from the piece:

People associate breaking news with cable channels, said Rick Edmonds, who writes about the finances and business trends in the news industry for the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla. He said viewers now reflexively turn to the web sites affiliated with those stations when venturing online to scan the headlines.

“If you’re on CNN or MSNBC, you figure you’ll find out what’s going on within five minutes,” Edmonds said. “With the others, there’s a feeling I’ll get a nice serving of stories that were produced this morning.”

What this says to me is that readers don’t associate the journalistic traditions of the newspaper world with the immediacy of the digital world, which is more akin to the breaking news mentality of TV.  After all, newspapers get published once a day (although it used to be more often than that).  They seem, at least in my mind, more considered reporting and less breathless.  Cable news is very much the story as it happens, is often corrected on the fly, and seems more “sensational” than most serious print vehicles.

So the question is this:  can newspapers or any other product with strong brand images, built up over time, overcome those images and remake themselves?  For example – Sports Illustrated is the apex of sports journalism in my mind but I rarely go to their site for breaking sports news.  That’s Yahoo’s or ESPN’s or Comcast Sportsnet’s domain.

What do you think?  If you think it’s possible, how?  A separate brand?  Please share!

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud

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