Metaphors: Burger King and, sigh, the Titanic

A too-quick-to-adapt Burger King
John P. Garrett’s Newspapers and the Burger King mentality. How would you like your news?

I believe the news business has been spinning mostly in circles not because the executives are slow to adapt to new technologies as many of the new media experts gripe. On the contrary, the news business has been too quick to adapt. Let me use Burger King as an illustration.

In the late 1970’s, Burger King introduced the “Have it your way” campaign. It was a smashing success. It told customers that if they didn’t want onions they don’t have to get onions. You could actually tell the person taking your order the way you wanted your burger as if you were at home preparing it yourself.

There were limits. You couldn’t tell them you wanted a specialty bun or spear pickles. They wanted you to know they would make the burger the way you wanted but still had profitability concerns. They still wanted to make money on their Whopper.

Today in the news business, we are like Burger King without the limits.

How do you want your news? Facebook? ok, email? ok, twitter? ok, without ads? ok, iPad? ok

A Burger King down the street from a burger joint overing free burgers with unlimited options
Judy Sims, in a comment on John P. Garrett’s Newspapers and the Burger King mentality. How would you like your news?

I think the flaw in your argument is that no one is offering free hamburgers with unlimited customization down the street from Burger King. If they were, BK would have to give away free hamburgers too and then figure out how to make money from delivering a different kind of value.

That’s what newspapers need to do. In fact, I believe that it is possible for online-only news media to be profitable. But they can’t be built off the traditional media cost structures.

Passengers on the Titanic
Howard Owens, in a comment on John P. Garrett’s Newspapers and the Burger King mentality. How would you like your news?

The fallacy is that journalism is expensive to produce. Good journalism is neither hard nor expensive. True, some stories can be expensive and hard and require experience and layers of editors, but the vast, vast majority of news is neither hard nor expensive.

Journalists intent on clutching to old models, like a Titanic passenger clinking to a deck railing, love to claim that only the old model can support the kind of journalism a democracy needs.

Reality is, however, it’s just not true. Especially now.

via Steve Buttry

3 thoughts on “Metaphors: Burger King and, sigh, the Titanic

  1. well you could at least clean up my typos :)

    (Some) Journalists are intent on clutching to old models, like a Titanic passenger clinging to … “

    In Reality it is, however, just not true.

  2. Howard, we gotta keep this cheap, so we're a strict Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V operation here ;)

    Your point is a good one: “good” journalism isn't always as expensive and hard-to-produce as the Titanic passengers would have us believe. Thanks for offering up the simile.

  3. Pingback: Campus Connections Starring Constitutional Basis, Cynnamon Crabb and Fran-Demonium « IMU News

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