MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - Waking nightmare of a tycoon caught napping by e-com

It happens to us all. You wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly freak out as you remember that you forgot to set the alarm, e-mail your copy in or build a new-media division for your newspaper empire. Whoops.

It happens to us all. You wake up in the middle of the night and

suddenly freak out as you remember that you forgot to set the alarm,

e-mail your copy in or build a new-media division for your newspaper

empire. Whoops.



Poor Conrad Black. He comes across as a man fevered with the sudden

realisation that he is in the wrong game. Maybe it is true, as other

commentators have suggested, that he was so consumed with The

Telegraph’s punishing newspaper price war against Rupert Murdoch’s Times

that he took his eye off the puck (trying to be Canadian about this) and

let the future of his newspaper empire slip his mind.



It’s a shame because, in the UK at least, Black’s Hollinger

International, through its Telegraph Group subsidiary, was early to

market with the Electronic Telegraph. The website showed promise but

strategically there was no growth.



The Electronic Telegraph went so far and then stopped like it had run

out of gas. The group produced no other online developments until its

more recent joint venture projects such as handbag.com.



Within the past couple of months the fuse has been relit and departures

and appointments have come swift and fast. Danny Meadows-Klue, the

long-time head of the Electronic Telegraph, was out and Kim Fletcher,

the former Independent on Sunday editor, was in.



With the changes in personnel there was talk of multi-million pound

investments and the introduction of new e-commerce-focused channels.

These were to draw on the traditional strengths of the Telegraph brand

(travel, motoring, property and jobs). All good stuff and, though late

in the day, not as late as some people might suppose.



The Hollinger experience looks similar to that of many other newspaper

companies around the world. Newspapers, in their efforts to develop

online, are both blessed and damned by the mantra that content is king.

What to do with all that content?



Some have attempted to translate it into endless content-based sites

that remain under-used and, worse still, seem to lack any commercial

raison d’etre. They do not seem to have asked the question: which of my

sites would a venture capitalist fund?



This does seem to be changing though. The Telegraph now has its list of

to-be-launched e-commerce sites, while News International has come up

with its entertainment auction site, firedup.com.



The issue, however, is not just about whether to build alliances with

television, cable, telephone and other businesses, just as it is not

about whether newspapers will be killed off (as if). It is about making

some economic and commercial sense out of content with the aim of

building balanced businesses. If this issue is not grasped, newspaper

publishers will find themselves sidelined by the more even marriage of

content and e-business being offered by hungry start-ups.



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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).