Digital Transformation: An executive look at the challenges and opportunities for the newspaper industry

The newspaper industry is becoming increasingly digital. However, the digital transformation has not been easy. To help marketers overcome this challenge facing not just newspapers but all types of digital subscriptions, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, sat down with Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute.

Watch this video interview to discover how newspapers can use data to learn about their customers, think about technology as a way to deliver value, and build brands through creating consistent and relevant customer experiences.

Is news going away? News is proliferating. But brand will still matter, and quality will still matter. And people will always pay for the things they believe are worth it.

— Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute

In a digital age when so much content is available for free, marketers face the challenge of providing products and services with enough value perceived by consumers that they’re willing to pay for it.

For the latest MECLABS Institute Executive Series, the team researched this topic with a survey of 900 U.S. news consumers and interviews with industry and academic experts.

Based on his 20 years of experience testing and optimizing responses to subscription offers in the newspaper industry, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, shared three main points of advice for newspaper business leaders:

Pricing strategy

Don’t be afraid to demand payment for value. Offering endless discounts can reinforce consumer perceptions that digital subscriptions are not worth a higher price. If you invest in quality journalism, you have to price your product accordingly.


Your strategy should not be to use technology because it’s available. Instead, think about technology in light of customer experience. How can you use new platforms to serve a better experience?

By understanding how customers use their devices and what unique functions they serve, technology will become a means to a better experience rather than just an end.

Data powers customer insights

Build your customer insight by gathering relevant data, developing hypotheses and testing your way into the future instead of guessing or copying others:

“With the digital traces that we capture from the experience of every subscriber who engages with us in the online world we’re given insight into their decision patterns, into their interests. … We have to re-envision the entire newspaper business. It is actually a treasure trove of data. And there are not very many organizations anywhere in the world that could compare with the type and even the breadth of data that a newspaper can gather,” McGlaughlin said.


Watch the full video interview for these and other insights to transform how you communicate value in the digital subscription space.

Related Resources

Newspaper and Digital Subscriptions Executive Series report

Newspaper Paywalls and Digital Subscriptions: Research with 900 U.S. news consumers reveals four key insights 

This issue of the MECLABS Institute Executive Series explores four key insights from consumer research and expert interviews. Our goal is to arm newspaper executives with research-based ideas that they can test with their audiences.

Learn more


Peter Doucette Resources

Anatomy of a Business Transformation: An executive look at how The Boston Globe drove $3 million in incremental revenue in just one year 

Watch the executive perspective of The Boston Globe's transformation story to gain insights business leaders can use within their own organization and teams.

Watch now


Video Transcript

The MECLABS Executive Series is designed to give a high-level look at customer preference and attitude data, which you can leverage to optimize new products, messaging and idea with your own customers.

Today in this edition of the Executive Series, we have Flint McGlaughlin, Founder and Managing Director of the MECLABS Institute, to add his perspective on the challenges that newspaper executives face based on his 20 years of experience with testing in the field of digital subscriptions and newspapers.

Daniel Burstein: Hi, I'm Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content at MECLABS Institute and joining me now is Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director of MECLABS Institute. Thanks for joining us, Flint.

Flint McGlaughlin: Thank you, Daniel.

DB: So we're going to be talking about the first Executive Series from MECLABS Institute, a new type of research to answer pressing business questions that executives face. The first one is focused on the newspaper industry and digital paywall specifically. Flint, this is a topic you've been researching, newspapers and how to communicate online, for at least 10 years, right?

FM: More like 20. I think my first Research Partner was focused on a subscription offering and that was nearly 20 years ago. I think the official partnership began 14 or 15 years ago, but we did a body of research in advance of that. In the early days, one of the clearest business models for online was subscriptions.

DB: What about newspapers specifically?

FM: Newspapers, I remember going back in the earliest days, there was a particular vendor that specialized in providing credit card services for subscription organizations. We set up research using their data to study subscription offerings online — how they're presented and what the purchase patterns were. Typically, the business is about two key components: acquisition and retention. It's been the same, even though the context has changed with the digital environment.

DB: Let's look at one of the challenges newspapers face in terms of acquisition. We live in a culture where information is so freely available online. So we recently fielded a survey with more than 2,000 American consumers. We published a lot of that in the Wall Street Journal and Adweek, but we kept back one really important piece of data that had to do with newspapers.

We asked, "Would you subscribe to a digital newspaper offering?" And 59% of consumers said, “No.”

Then we asked, "Would you subscribe to a print newspaper offering?" And only 29% of people said, “No.”

Why do you think there is that disconnect between digital and print? It's the same information.

FM: Other than the segmentation as it relates to the age of your audience, for instance — and I don't have the numbers, though, I know it was commissioned within MECLABS — I think there are at least two components that influence that thinking.

Number one, you have to deal with consumer habits, which are ingrained for decades and decades. It's less of a stretch to imagine subscribing to a newspaper, and frankly, many of the respondents probably see a newspaper in their home or grew up with a newspaper in their home. You have to factor in what I would call marketplace velocity.

The second piece is that despite the fact that digital has transformed the world, it hasn't transformed the habits of every person in the world. Some of us still prefer books in our hand. I have a Kindle. I also read books. I think sometimes in our extremism and our excitement in the early years, we are so quick to declare an extreme, when actually there's a hybrid and a much longer period before full adoption.

I don't think that's a question that we'll get the right answer for until you ask the next generation. In fact, I'd love to see that study focused on a much younger generation, very specifically segmented to millennials or some other group and see what the difference is in their numbers.

DB: That would be interesting. We have the demographic data, and we can break that out.

FM: I would slice and dice it that way.

DB: One of the things you mentioned about how long change takes and something we're hearing about is, is home delivery over? Are print newspapers over? What do you think about that?

FM: Well, you're sitting across from me in a business suit. The world has changed so dramatically. But if you were to take that same suit and wear it 10 years ago, you'd still be in style. There may be a slight shift in whether it's cuff or not cuff or whether it's pleated or not pleated, but lapels and basic design, it doesn't change nearly as fast as we think.

What changes so often is the means, but that doesn't necessarily change the habit. We have new ways to get information. People are taking advantage of that. But they are old ingrained habits that don't change as fast as we would like them to. Too often we confuse enthusiasm with certainty, and they're not the same.

Now, is the newspaper business in the midst of transformation? Absolutely. Will the world receive its news in 20 years the way it received it 20 years ago? No. There will be massive transformation there. Is news going away? I don't think there's evidence news is going away. News is proliferating. But brand will still matter, and quality will still matter. And people will always pay for the things they believe are worth it.

I would go back to say that another interesting take on that study would be to ask the question differently. I think the notion of a digital subscription or pay for some digital version really has the limitations of language with preconceived concepts, preconditioning people to answers that may not be accurate.

Another interesting follow-up to that study would be to use different words to describe the content that people might pay for. You might be surprised. If you were to keep the word "digital" out of it but still suggest that, imply that, you might get a different response.

It's always going to come back to the value proposition, Dan. It's always going to come back to that. We confuse the value proposition with its means of delivery. We make all sorts of prophetic declarations. We miss the fact that if we deliver a better value proposition, people are going to buy. The real question isn't will people buy digital subscriptions. The real question is how can we use the digital landscape, the ecosystem, all of its advantages to deliver a better value proposition. The minute we answer that, we solve the real problem.

DB: Excellent. Let's talk about how to deliver that better value proposition because in the follow-up survey we're running, we're asking customers instead about different elements of value that might be of interest to them, might encourage them to subscribe. One of the things we're asking about is credibility. Credibility seems so important to newspapers, and it also seems important to the value proposition. What advice would you give to newspapers to communicate their credibility and to create a value proposition around it?

FM: I think we are all confused about brand. Until we sort that out, we're not going to figure out how to survive what's taking place, this tsunami that's taking place in the way people are receiving their information. Brand is the aggregate experience of the value proposition. I don't just mean one person, but when I use the word "aggregate," I mean the entire marketplaces. You may not have an Apple product, but if you've heard about from your friends and the media and other places, those are all brand touches. Their force is strong not from a brand promise but a brand expectation.

See, an expectation is preceded by a conclusion. I conclude that when I get a product from you, it's going to have this customer experience. I'm going to experience these values. When I conclude that on my own, there are a lot of interesting things that can happen. No one ever saw a viral campaign take off because of claims. It takes off because of conclusions.

Somebody sees something and concludes it's funny. Somebody sees something and concludes it's interesting and more. The implications of that motivates them to share. But no one said, "Hey, I just got that this great new ad that claims newspapers are going to deliver better value and they sell it all over the country." We're too busy as marketers making claims instead of fostering conclusions.

That connects in a very tangential way to what we're talking about, but also a very direct way because for the newspaper to remain credible, it has to make certain that in its pathway forward to revenue in a digital environment. It doesn't inadvertently prostitute the essence of what made newspapers great to start with. That's high-quality writing and journalistic integrity. It's trust earned between the reader and the editors and the writers and the brand.

It's also, in many cases, local in the sense that it's produced in a sense by someone in your family, your community, for you in your community. This is the advantage that regional publications and city publications can have over news outlets that don't understand the region, the neighborhood and what matters to the people who live there.

It also gives us a hint into where the newspaper business can go in the future because specificity converts. One thing we've discovered at MECLABS is that everything important that we want to remember, teach and apply was true a thousand years ago, is true today and will be true a thousand years from now.

A thousand years ago, before we had some of the complicated business terms we use, specificity converted. Specificity is always the key to conversion. Specificity implies that the very specific offer that's very relevant to my specific need, my urgent, important and relevant need, that appeals to me and I'll say “yes” more often.

Now, newspapers in the past had no way to deliver specificity at the level we can now. With the digital traces that we capture from the experience of every subscriber who engages with us in the online world, we're given an insight into their decision patterns, into their interests. I think we have to re-envision the entire newspaper business. It is actually a treasure trove of data. There aren't very many organizations anywhere in the world that could compare with the type and even the breadth of data that a newspaper can gather.

Now, that might be frightening to some because like any good thing, it can be used in a bad way. But let's just for a moment warrant that that's not the issue. A newspaper should be able in a digital environment to deliver a better value proposition because it could understand who I really am, what I really want and deliver to me that in a genuine way. We think we understand personalization today.

We'll be laughing at personalization 20 years from now and what we think is personalization — the way we laugh when we think about Atari computers and RadioShack Tandys. The world is changing so fast, and we're so primitive. I think the newspaper business of the future is the technology business. I think it's leveraging its data in masterful ways to produce a better customer experience.

By the way, within the bounds of ethical, honest, and I know that's two words that are closely connected and, honestly, do not need to be stressed but I think it needs to be particularly stressed the integrity of what made newspapers great. We can provide a better value proposition to advertisers also because we know more now about a subscriber. If we're properly collecting data, useful data designed not to exploit the subscriber but serve them, then we can stop serving ads and start serving our readers.

We can design their interaction with our sponsors or advertisers to be far more valuable, far more rich, far more relevant. While I think there are inklings of that going on today, I think again we think too small about this and we don't recognize its true capabilities completely transform the experience we have with journalism. It's not just journalism per se, but all that journalism was packaged within the city or community newspaper that many of us grew up exposed to.

DB: It's interesting. We interviewed Peter Doucette, a vice president at The Boston Globe and what they’re trying to do at The Boston Globe or what their goal is that they have free sites and paid sites. By having people visit those free sites, they're gathering data and information. 

So his goal is if people hit a paywall or when they hit a paywall, they're hit with a paywall that's personalized and then has a value proposition that is relevant to their needs. That might include some people get more free articles, some people get less free articles. It's very in line with what you're talking about.

The challenge is The Boston Globe is the biggest metro in the country. It has the most digital subscribers in the country. It might have more resources than other newspapers. So where can newspapers start? What can they start doing today to learn more about their customers and start gathering this information?

FM: Peter is a visionary, and he's a friend. We have a lot of conversations about the future together. I think The Boston Globe represents a model that can still be aspired to by other papers. You may not have a budget their size, but it's not The New York Times.

The New York Times transcends the newspaper business. It's a global media brand. Trying to copy The New York Times is a mistake because it really doesn't represent the classic newspaper model. It's transcended it. More power to The Times, congratulations. But The Globe is still a city paper. It has a community impact, and it has community roots.

I think The Globe is today doing things that we should pay attention to. For one, The Globe has done extensive testing to fine-tune the value proposition and discover what the right balance is between its free and its paid offer.

For another, it's been so successful that it's raised its price dramatically and still retained topline and still achieved subscriber satisfaction. I know the specific numbers, but I'm not at liberty to say, but I have to say they're shocking because at a time when other newspapers are retreating, they're taking new territory. If I was in Dallas or if I was in Orlando or some other city that might be trying to get this figured out, I don't think The Globe is relevant — I think it's very relevant.

First of all, stop taking your discount promotions and focusing the implied message that (a), essentially you were right.  We're not worth the price you thought. Just wait around and we'll finally get to a price you're willing to pay.

There are two ways. Think of it as a fulcrum. Every newspaper has this issue. You have either in the offer you can add value or you can reduce cost. Now, I want to tell you that when I say cost, I don't just mean price. There are other costs — how difficult it is to access information, the amount of information you require from me, forms of friction in the design. There are a lot of costs associated with a value proposition beyond price. But let's just take, for the moment, price as an epicenter or key piece of the cost and value.

When the marketplace isn't responding well, your first line of action is to add value. The first line of action that other newspapers are taking is to discount. We can hit our quarterly numbers or our monthly numbers if we offer yet another one of those amazing discounts. Every single time they do, they confirm the public's conclusion that it's not worth it.

So those newspapers looking at The Globe can learn. They should realize that The Globe is able to raise prices not because they're The New York Times, not because they're counting on subscribers from all over Europe, but because they are becoming more and more relevant because in their testing of their value proposition, they're delivering more and more true value.

People realize that it's worth it. Even if they don't want to pay it, they'll keep paying it because it's worth it. That is not only a brave move on their part. It becomes a possible move when you spent time focusing on how you're going to add value. The data collected in the digital world yields a trove of insights, which we can use to add value.

I want to stress that when you think about it in terms of this context, you're not looking for a formula. You're not targeting a market. You're not persuading people to purchase. That whole paradigm is both ineffectual and dated.

What made newspapers great is you actually believed they cared about the community. They cared about people. They reported the stories that other people wouldn't report. They reported the stories that wouldn't make it in the national news and in many of the other channels. They talked about the local issues that mattered to local people. People don't buy from companies; people buy from people.

The key in this newspaper business is to remember how human the relationship is. The danger of technology for the newspaper business is that we lose the humanity that made newspapers great. I'm not saying that from just a high moral ground or just from the sake of altruism. I think that's a good thing and a right thing and even an ethical thing. But frankly, it's a very expedient thing as well.

When newspaper use technology to target markets and to persuade people and to exploit data in a negative way, in the event they were to do such a thing, they're going to lose the very soul that made them great. But if you take the same technology and use it so that the people in the newspaper can help the people in their community have a better experience, you're going to have a better paper. You're going to have a stronger value proposition, and you're going to have a place in the future.

I think many are at a crossroads right now because they're lost. They don't know what to do. They're discounting, and they're trying things. Discounting and trying things isn't the way forward.

DB: One thing Peter Doucette of The Boston Globe talked about is they had a choice when the economy was getting tough. They could be advertiser first or they could be reader first. He said it's not one or the other, but they chose to be reader first. They chose to have a higher number of people in their newsroom per subscriber than most other papers. That creates more true value, a better value proposition. But how do marketers make that case within their organization to preserve the newsroom to create a better product. It sounds like data may be —

FM: Well, I've spent 30 years asking a single question: Why do people say “yes”? Twenty years officially, but I probably spent 10 years before that doing everything I could to answer the question before I realized I better get serious about it.

"Why do people say ‘yes’ given a series of options?" has driven all the research at MECLABS. So when you ask me that question, you tap into this rich vein of experience and I don't mean all of it was good but it certainly was rich. The marketer should be the philosopher of the organization. They should possess the wisdom of the customer. It's a high and noble place that's often disregarded or at least not treated with the respect it deserves.

Peter Drucker realized long ago, long before the Internet that everybody is in marketing and the business and everybody should be. It is the job of every single person. And I'm stressing that because the marketer has to understand primacy. There can be readers without advertisers, but there can't be advertisers without readers. That simple piece of logic dictates the choice that Peter made, a courageous choice, put the readers first.

But here's the thing. When you put the readers first, you give the advertisers a better experience. A paper that has great influence with its readers is going to deliver a better product for its advertisers. I define influence, true influence, as a function of three components and this is based on our own research: reach, intensity and capacity.

Reach is how many people do you reach with your message. Intensity is how much impact you have with your message on peoples' thinking. Capacity is how much influence does that individual you're reaching have themselves. What is their "kingdom"? A newspaper that recognizes the primacy of the reader will develop reach, influence and capacity or the totality of influence that becomes invaluable to an advertiser when they're trying to have the most impact themselves.

By the way, the newspaper that puts the advertiser first and divulges the wrong kind of information about the reader will suffer in the end for that very reason. You can get away with it for a while, but you can't get away with it forever.

I think we have to think of newspapers differently than just a business. They represent an institution in our country and all over the world. They have a role to play that shouldn't be lost in the midst of all these business conversations. We need the press to do what it does best. That will only come when they put the reader first.

DB: Absolutely. Agree. One way that newspapers are trying to put the reader first, and I agree with what you're talking about because it's about the newsroom. It's about creating that humanity and that content for them, but it's also in the delivery mechanism. According to Pew Research now, more people read newspapers on mobile than on desktop.

So newspapers are trying to adapt and figure out how can we deliver that experience on mobile. Some of the ways they struggle is it's harder to get people to convert on mobile, and it's harder to communicate a value proposition on mobile. There's just less real estate and less time. So what advice would you have to newspapers using mobile?

FM: Just be careful that you don't drown in two inches of water. The conversation about mobile is not deep enough. It's not about the device. It's about the totality of the customer experience. Mobile can help you serve the reader better, but it doesn't help you deliver the same experience on a smaller screen. Learning how to cram one screen into another and big questions about design and focusing on the technology and not what's happening beneath the technology is a big miss.

Indeed, whether it's a PC or it's a mobile device, it's still pixels. It's still zeroes and ones. It's not even real. It's an illusion. If you don't get into the mind of the person you're trying to serve and understand how the value proposition is contextualized in that place, then all you're going to do is invest in technologies and try better designs and all of that misses the point.

If I was the leader of the newspaper, I wouldn't be just rushing into mobile because the world says that's where I need to be. It's a valid point. We need to think mobile. But if that's as far as you think, you're completely missing it.

The real question is with all of what we've developed over the years and understanding who are readers truly are, how can we use the mobile device to truly serve a better experience, a better experience, not how do I adapt to mobile? Wrong question. It's not, "How do I create a mobile experience that my customer likes?" That's still the wrong question.

There are two critical questions we often miss every time we get engaged with something like this. The first one is, “What should be my objective? What is my true objective?” We fail so often because we don't get clear about what our real objective is. The second reason we fail is because we ask the wrong secondary question. Once we know our objective, we say, "How can I achieve it?" Bad question. Recipe for, at the best, mediocrity — at the worst, total failure.

The real question isn't, "How can I achieve my objective?" It is, "What is the best way to achieve my objective?" If you don't think that way about the mobile device, you're going to create a compromised experience. That's what I'm seeing all over, compromised experiences. We ought to transcend that and say, "This is different. So let's think differently."

Transforming the print edition, we were there. I was part of this with The New York Times in the beginning. I've been running experiments with The New York Times now for 12 or 14 years. By the way, they tried it two ways, the electronic edition, which was an exact digital replica and The New York Times Digital.

Transforming that original Web press product of the newspaper into the PC environment required a bigger question than, "How do I fit all that text on the screen?" It misses all the advantages that you had with links. You could simplify layer and sequence in ways that weren't possible with a print paper.

In a way, there was a capacity to add more or less a toolbar and make a way better reading experience — to store articles and favorites and mark things and save your markings and pull quotes — all of these possibilities. That's how you had to think to make that transition. Same thing needs to happen in mobile. What does it do better and how can I leverage that to create a better value proposition?

By the way, we're not going to get all of our news on mobile devices, not until there's a change. We're going to get important news. If you start to ask yourself, "What do I want to do on my mobile device," it may not be what all the experts are saying because the consumer isn't responding to our surveys. That's not what's driving them to the next move. It is the reality of the experience. There are some things I can do with headlines, critical pieces and storytelling.

As screen sizes change, as holographic technology allows to transcend the limit of our current piece of flat glass, which by the way, I think, is completely limited. I think one of the things newspapers need to think about is what happens when we transcend that ugly slab of glass that has so connected us to an anchor that we have to drag around with us. That's going to change. The whole world is going to change again when it does.

I think in the Internet of things, I'll be able to use my mobile device to choose. It's a very important distinction, to choose. Some things I'll read, but sometimes I will scan and choose. Because I'll be connected everywhere I go, I'll have many ways to read what I choose, some we haven't even envisioned yet.

Everything we wear and every place we go is going to have a brain. Every brain is going to be talking to each other. And what I choose in my mobile device will display on the monitor next to me if I choose it to and on the table top in the restaurant I'm sitting at if I wanted to and probably in something I can roll out if I need to. Likely in the glasses if I wanted to, and probably some holographic, once we get it right, boom, just put it in front of me and look at it. The world is changing.

So mobile is now. The best way to solve for mobile is to think past it. The moment you think past it, you realize that mobile isn't an end. It's a means. You discipline your thinking and mobile itself back into what it should be, which is just another way to deliver value.

DB: So one of the things that many metro newspapers struggle with is a lot of the things you're talking about, they don't feel like they have the budgets for. They don't feel like they can pull off. What can metro newspapers do to build a business case to find out what that next thing is to build the next business? It seems like they tend to be caught in the past and they're looking at the newspaper, like you said, and they're saying, "How can I take the newspaper and throw it at this thing?" How can they get more for it?

FM: Well, first of all, they've got to get present tense. Let's engage in a bit of business philosophy. We think short-term, long-term, mid-term. We need to start thinking now-term. The only value of the past is what it does to help you make better decisions in the present. The only value of the future is what it does to help you think about and take and make better decisions in the present. I don't have the future and I don't have the past and even what I think is the past is a pretty muddy set of recollections that is neither totally accurate nor totally reliable.

However, it's useful in forming the decisions we make in the present. Clearly I just talked about looking beyond mobile. I'm saying look in the future but so you can get the present right. The first thing we do is think differently about everything by stop getting chained to the past. That's happening in a lot of newsrooms. That's happening at a lot of papers whose traditional comfort level is connected to an orthodoxy that is getting in the way of clear thinking.

The paradigm shift is not about seeing with better eyes. It's about seeing with a new set of eyes. We have to see with the customer's eyes in the present tense. Let me cash that in because I know it's a bit abstract and if someone is thinking about this and they're in a mid-size market trying to build their newspaper, what does it really mean?

What costs us isn't our successes — it's our failures. The first limitation on your budget comes from making bets instead of designing tests. If I were a mid-size market, I'd quit guessing and I'd quit copying. On the Internet, best practices are often just pooled ignorance.

So you have to start by looking at the future, looking at the past and forming a new hypothesis about what would produce the best customer experience now. That's articulated into a value proposition. You don't build new presses, get a new building or hire a lot of staff. You design a discreet test that allows you to iterate your way forward, to test and correct.

The reason we don't have the money is because we're wasting too much. We don't need to waste nearly as much if we're testing our way forward instead of betting our way forward. There's a huge difference. A good test limits your risk, limits your downside and allows you to course correct until you get there. I'd be terrified the bets I see people placing. I see big technology bets and big acquisitions and it looks like you're doing something, but you're just floundering.

Even if you get it right, it's just not a method. Luck is not a method. So I would use the present, use the past to hypothesize how to create the best experience I can now in my mobile environment, tablet environment. Home delivery is still here, hasn't gone away yet, in my home delivery, how I'd connect the two.

Then I would create alternate hypotheses and start to test my way in with discreet smart tests. If you say, "I don't know how to do that?" That's solvable. There are organizations that can help you. There are ways you can learn that. It's a lot easier to learn that than it is to become a prophet.

DB: So we're talking about the actual product itself and the communication mechanism, but there's also the funding model that's in question, right? Should it be micropayments, sponsored content? It sounds like that would be another very important thing to test into.

FM: You've got to test your way into this future. You cannot guess your way in. You cannot copy your way in. Frankly, we're afraid. So in many cases, we think copying our way in is the safest. The blind leader of the blind isn't necessarily taking you where you need to go. You also can't copy — contexts have change. Even what works for The Globe in principle, that could work for you. But in actual practice, in application, they won't work the same way for you. If you're the Dallas Morning News, you need to pay attention to the principles.

By the way, what worked for The Globe was testing. They tested alternate hypotheses. I was there. They tested them until they got the one that was right and they then took that best result and they focused energy, financial energy and a lot of hard work. They're not there yet. They've got a long ways to go.

But newspapers all over the country are looking for an example. I was there when The New York Times was getting rid of them and they were underperforming so badly that everyone was afraid. They were a long far distance from being a leader looked to by the rest of the country for smart practice in the digital world. If they can do it, you can do it.

DB: Thank you for your insights, Flint. And thank you for watching. You can get much more research at