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First mover in news business

Business in reshaping like chess: All movements from the opponent have to be taken into consideration

If you have not yet heard about the first mover, you should definitely keep reading. Knowing the concept can make a great difference to your personal life, your business and your ability of understanding the world.

In my last posts, I have been discussing how the business in news corporations is shifting and that new technic and innovation create demands, which providers of service and goods have to satisfy. In a way, it is like playing chess, every move from the opponent (or change on the market), has to be taken into consideration before taking further decisions.

Now, within the business a lot of strategies are being tried, of which only few turn out to be exceptionally good. However, when these new concepts have been proven efficient, the are being copied. The emerging question however is who’s actually making the domino effect possible. Here the first mover comes into play.

The first mover

Being the first mover is not trying to foresee per se. It is about having a natural way of picking up signals and tendencies in the society. Listen to how people are talking about things, changes in attitude and what’s currently being discussed. A first mover is not being guided by dogmas or pride, instead the derivative is to observe a various amount of areas, for instance business, politics, art or science and understand how they all point in the same direction. One example is the danish fashion group MIG Copenhagen, which will be translating their homepage to chinese and japanese, instead of only english, to appeal to new customer groups.

Importantly, the first mover rarely comes up with a brand new idea, but has the unique ability to copy the concept to a field where the ideas originally did not belong. I’m imagining it as finding a flower, taking its seeds and replant in a better soil, which will make it reach it’s true potential.

Getting back to my thread – news business- and discussing this topic, it is impossible not to mention John Paton, once having said Digital first, print last“. Mr Paton reshaped the media group Journal Register Company from close to bankrupcy into a economically healthy business.

In news business

Being an editor at different news papers for many years, Mr Paton explains (from 07.15 in the video) how the news papers, after the launch of internet lost its exclusivity about choosing the  headlines of the day. Post web browser. He claims that the audience has became yet another competitor and now interacts and manages to reach out with information quicker than the news papers themselves. All this boils down to, that if anyone in this industry shall survive, the famous words of Marshall McLuhan (news guru in the 60’s and 70’s) must be accepted as true: “The medium is the message”. With these words, John Paton argues that news corporations must get back to basics of what news really is about.


This is is how far we are today. For many companies, business models are to be reshaped, companies are undergoing large changes, disruptive innovational thinking is demanded and finding new positions is necessary. Journalist Peter Kirwan, mainly focusing his writing on where media, journalism and technology clash, follows Mr Paton steps with interest. In this article by Mr Kirwan, Mr Paton is in favour of harsh and immediate changes, which will revolutionise the ways many news business look upon the future and themselves. I’ve listed some interesting improvements (from the link just above), that Mr Paton has already done, which probably will be followed by others. This makes him a first mover.

Are you doing the first move?

1. “Stop listening to newspaper people. Put digital people in charge of everything. And let them push you around.” (Let the innovators in and let them consult you. People who have been in the business for many years are not eager enough to change.)

2. Outsource as much as possible. (Focus on what you’re best at. Don’t let extraneous problems affect your business. Cut costs.)

3. Convert your audience into partners. (Collaborate with the audience and other competitors in order to better cover the news flow.)

Being the first mover also means risk-taking, and some, for example the Harvard Businee Review, propose that there is a serious first mover disadvantages, and that being a fast follower, could be just as good. However, the benefits of pioneering may result in market dominance and higher-than-average profitability over time, which is not the case by the fast following competitor.


2 thoughts on “First mover in news business

  1. Hey Mattias

    I was very curious about your blog post as Dr B. was really enthused about it.

    To be the first is always risky! However, I think it brings the company forward. Firms like apple or canon are so successful because they are always one step ahead. These companies are the firsts which launch a new product with the latest technology. Their brand names are extremely benefiting from it. So it’s not surprising that for example cannon is selling more products during a economic crisis than its competitors.

    The way you write and explain things really inspired me. Your post is well structured and the idea of comparing the first mover with chess is just great. I liked the topic you chose and I hope to read more interesting stuff like this in the next weeks. Good job!

    Posted by Kathrin | December 20, 2011, 6:50 pm


  1. Pingback: New thrilling business models « News With Juice - December 28, 2011

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