To succeed amidst disruption of traditional media, think about ‘cannibalizing yourself’

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Now is the time for NPR to think about “becoming our own disruptor,” said President Vivian Schiller during a webinar on how media companies can and must adapt to the dissolution of their traditional business models.

During a one-hour talk and Q&A hosted today by the Microsoft-sponsored blog FASTforward, Schiller pointed to the big audience gains that NPR booked last fall as the reason for an aggressive push into the digital media sphere–“this is exactly the time you’ve got to think about cannibalizing yourself”–and said it’s no longer good enough for to be a companion to the NPR radio news service.

“ has got to be a destination in its own right, and be designed for people who are interested in the values our radio service represents in the online space,” Schiller said. By pairing NPR’s national and international newsgathering capacity with the editorial capabilities and listener relationships of local stations, public radio can create a “network of digital properties” that will have deep local connections, she said.

Another featured speaker was media change consultant and author Scott Anthony, who differed with Schiller on the importance that news consumers will place on quality. Media companies have to recognize that “quality is a relative term” and ease of use and simplicity are valuable attributes in digital media, he said.

Fast Forward has posted audio from the one-hour session and is hosting continued discussion.

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