How we're spending our time

I’ve noticed a hint of mild frustration with us lately in emails and blog posts by some of our loyal readers. They seem to fall into two categories:

Category 1: You’ve been talking for months. When are you actually going to do something?
We started this blog very early in the germination of our plan. Part of that was to workshop some of the ideas; part of that was to establish early conversations with smart people who care about local news and advertising. So, as the months roll up on the archive rail, it starts to look like we’ve been out here blathering for a long time. And we have.

What we’ve been doing, behind the scenes, is developing our business plan. It’s an ambitious plan, and not the sort of thing you can just throw together quickly. It’s a plan that will require substantial resources — resources that we aren’t going to employ lightly.

That’s why we’re about to engage in a major study of the media market, generating data on online news usage; media consumption hablts; acceptance of user-generated content and its relationship to mainstream news; the impact of the long tail on non-directory, non-search advertising  (and vice versa); acceptance of pay-for-performance advertising; desire for and acceptance of customized news; use of mobile; SMS content and advertising — and lots more. It’s research that I suppose could be useful to any media company, but is essential to preventing us from throwing a party that no one attends.

So we are doing a lot — just not yet producing a consumer product. That product will certainly continue to evolve as we get results from our study.

In other words, hang on…

Category 2: Why haven’t you weighed in with an opinion on "XYZ thing that the DMN/Belo did?"
I’ve noted several times along the way that I wanted to get off the Belo-watch beat. While our frustrations with Our Daily Paper were an early catalyst, that’s not what our plan is about. In fact, as we evolve, I become more and more convinced that we won’t be remotely in the same business as the incumbents. We’re (going to be) a "third thing": Not traditional newspaper; not blog; not aggregator — and yet with components of all.

In all fairness, part of our early Belo commentary came because we were still casting about for what we thought this thing was all about, and it gave us something concrete we could talk about.

And, there are lots of folks out there covering the doings of Belo. To be true to our concept, we’re about unique content.

So, although snarking is fun, we’re laying aside our snarkers and beating them into plowshares. Or something like that. It’s time to talk about the future…

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.