Media Companies Still Don't Get the Web

Back in October of 2005, MTV Networks hired their first-ever Chief Digital Officer, Jason Hirschhorn, whose purpose was to play a role in helping MTV's brands "get the web". And then seven months later, this newly minted executive left the company. Ooops.

Stories like this aren't too uncommon. During the original Internet boom years companies were creating C-level positions to handle Internet-related activities. And these executives, failing to truly have a handle on what the web really was, came up with the not so original idea of building yet another portal in an already crowded market.

Media companies whether their business be print, video, or music are still struggling to craft a meaningful Internet strategy. Much of this is because they are taking a traditional media approach by treating the Internet as just another channel. With this mindset, they proceed to "program" it like they would a TV network or a magazine.

But the Internet isn't a broadcast medium for content providers. Instead, it is about, and has always been about communicating. An editor of Techdirt puts it best: "The way for old media companies to embrace digital isn't to appoint a chief digital officer who has no power, but to recognize that an understanding of the Internet needs to pervade all aspects of the business. The Internet isn't just another platform, but something that will impact every other aspect of their business, by enhancing, changing, challenging and reshaping how they create, deliver and promote all of the content they offer now."

These media companies don't need Chief Internet/Web/Digital Officers because it's not a separate job function. Rather, they need to get the entire company thinking digitally and to put a real effort in to understanding how it impacts their business. Easier said than done, of course.

Want another example of a media company (NY Times) not getting it? Here's a blog posting by GM describing how the NY Times mishandled a response from GM regarding an article one of the NY Times columnists wrote. At least GM got it this time around.

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