What is the lesson of Wallstrip for newspapers?

This past week, CBS acquired video blog Wallstrip. Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 walked through the startup process and asked:

The question this raises for me is — why can’t big media companies innovate like this?

For newspapers, the problem isn’t necessarily that they can’t innovate, although for many newspapers, product innovation isn’t necessarily one of their strong suits. The problem is an issue of framing. The opportunity is not newspaper plus video; the opportunity is video minus legacy.

The danger for some newspapers in crafting a video strategy is that to produce video they are rushing to replicate a TV model of production and in some cases presentation: Video plus legacy. Where is the opportunity in rushing to add another legacy business to the one they already have? None.

Newspapers need to start thinking like entrepreneurs. To survive, they need to start thinking like Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures:

It’s not entirely about the content on the web. Sure it has to be good enough to attract an audience. But right now, its about way more than the content. Just figuring out how to make a show on a cost basis that can make a profit is hard. How to do it every day is even harder. And figuring out all the other stuff that I listed above is critical.

So many times on the web, it isn’t entirely about the content. It isn’t entirely about quality, people are drowning in quality content. It’s about identifying opportunity and developing new models of production – NOT replicating old ones.

Broadcasting equipment companies will gladly sell you loads of high-priced gear that will allow you to shoot you high-spec documentaries that costs thousands of dollars/pounds to make, but you’re rushing into a crowded, mature market. In the UK, some newspapers are rushing into a market dominated by a taxpayer-funded, well regarded public broadcaster: The BBC. But, broadcasters are in the same position with video that newspapers are in their traditional business: Both are hampered to some degree by the cost of legacy systems. This is why I often say, YouTube isn’t about video. It’s about ease of use and social recommendation. Exclusive content, tailored for the web not for TV, made to share and seed with low-cost but high-quality pro-sumer gear is the beginning of a winning video strategy for newspapers.

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