Thursday, July 17, 2008

The grass may be greener….

These are indeed depressing times for U.S. newspapers. Seemingly with each day comes morebad news. However, the situation elsewhere in the world can be much more favorable.

I just returned from a week in Dubai as a guest of the Arab Media Group (AMG). The company is growing and progressive. AMG owns three daily newspapers, nine radio stations and a growing portfolio of satellite TV channels. In just one year, AMG built a $150 million printing facility that rivals any in the world.

At the morning editorial meeting of the Arabic-language newspaper Al Bayan, Randy Covington (left) speaks with Business Editor Ibrahim Totonji.

In places like Dubai, India and much of Latin America, there is a spirit of optimism that is painfully absent in so many newsrooms here in the U.S. Of course, newspaper circulation is still strong and growing in these regions. As a result, there is a willingness to take risks and invest in the future, characteristics that are painfully absent at so many media organizations here.

The irony is that in most of the world, the U.S. is viewed as the model for best practices and most advanced techniques. While that once may have been true, it does not seem to be the case any more.

At a time newspapers in the U.S. desperately need to reinvent themselves, many are hunkered down, trying at all cost to make the number this quarter. There is much we can learn from the rest of the world.

In Dubai and elsewhere, one can see models emerging for cross media news organizations, which I would contend are our hope for the future.

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