Typically the media covers the story. But currently, with daily newspapers shuttering and media giants reporting record losses, the media has become the story. And where that story ends is anybody’s guess, according to Rich Boehne, president and CEO of E.W. Scripps Co., one of the world’s largest media empires.
“We're in the midst of a story and the end of the story is very uncertain,” he told a group of Wake Forest University business students on Monday, March 30. Boehne spoke as part of the Babcock Graduate School of Management’s Leadership Series. “It's a very exciting time to be in this business, if you can handle the risk and the stress.”
The stress comes as a result of the impact the internet combined with the current recession is having on traditional media such as local newspapers and TV stations. Declining ad revenue and the ongoing migration to the Web, forced Boehne a few weeks ago to close Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, which would have celebrated its 150th anniversary this year.
“The news industry is changing," Boehne said. “We have to rebuild the business model. There’s going to be one or two survivors in the local news market.”
Boehne said media companies knew they needed to change their products, but they thought they had five or 10 more years until the economic crisis hit.
"The Internet has brought about changes that we're unimaginable just a few years ago,” he said. “The last 100 years were just a warm up for what’s to come.”
E.W. Scripps’ portfolio includes 10 TV stations; daily and community newspapers in 15 markets and the Washington-based Scripps Media Center, home to the Scripps Howard News Service; as well as United Media, which syndicates Peanuts, Dilbert and some 150 other features and comics.
Boehne also has worked at The Cincinnati Post, a Scripps newspaper, where he covered Wall Street, the national economy, and developments in the media industry. He joined the corporate staff at E.W. Scripps in 1988 as manager of investor relations and was named a vice president in 1995. Boehne was elected executive vice president in February 1999 and was named chief operating officer in April 2006.
Watch the video
WFDD radio interviews Mr. Boehne after his discussion with Wake Forest students:
Part 1 Part 2