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Assignment Title: What are the innovation opportunities and challenges for the Guardian?

Student ID number: 33413187

Programme of study: Computing Science

Course: Innovation Case Studies

Date: 8th August 2018

Word count: 1503

Introduction

The Guardian Newspaper is considered a British daily newspaper, which was founded in 1821 by a cotton merchant, John Edward Taylor. At that time this newspaper was known as the Manchester Guardian. However, in 1959, the Manchester Guardian became The Guardian. This was to exhibit the manifesting weight of both national and international business within the newspaper (1-3).The newspaper is owned by the Guardian Media Group (GMG) of newspapers.

What is innovative about The Guardian?

The Guardian is read mainly by people who are gregarious in their lifestyle. This includes people who are affluent and like travelling, fashion, finance and tech-savvy people, to mention a few. The Guardian only became a tabloid newspaper in January 2018(1-3).  Its daily circulation has continued to decline from 204,222 copies in December 2012 to around 161,091 in December 2016, and has been making losses. In recent years, the Guardian in electronic format is now published online and its website was visited by 8.2 million visitors by May 2013(1-3). This shift to online publication is innovative.

Can the Guardian maintain its commitment to quality investigative journalism?

The Guardian is notorious for investigative journalism. In my view, I believe that the Guardian can maintain its commitment to quality investigative journalism. The Guardian was previously a Berliner (a newspaper format, slightly taller and wider) until January 2018 when it became a tabloid.  The intention was to be cost-efficient because it was allowing the papers to be printed by a bigger variety of presses, which resulted in unacceptable levels of expenditures.

For this reason, a cutback of approximately 300 jobs, including 50 roles will take place as part of their 3-year plan. This is so that losses can be reduced by 2019. (Sweeny, 2017). This action of transitioning into a tabloid came from a variety of factors, which includes the plummeting numbers in the printing advertising market, and the increasing cost of publishing newspapers because of the sudden transition towards digital media, like Daily Mail, Google and Facebook.

Katherine Viner, commented “know that it is our award-winning, quality, independent journalism that our readers value most, rather than the shape or the size of the newspapers” (Sweeny, 2017).

David Pemsel, the chief executive of GMG, stated that “More people are reading and supporting our journalism than ever before, but the print industry continues to evolve, and we must evolve with it.” (Office, 2017).

 With a cutback in workforce, it would be sensible for the GMG to continue to importantly demonstrate that the investigative journalism remains a priority and not to be sacrificed as a result of cutbacks.

From this observation, it seems that the Guardian would be moving along in transition with improving the quality of their investigative journalism.

How can the Guardian learn from other industries challenged by digital disruption?

According to the Oxford College of Marketing, Digital Disruption is defined as “a transformation that is caused by the emerging digital technologies and business models” (Oxford College of Marketing Blog, n.d.) In other words, digital disruption is an attempt to possibly replace the current existing product on the market and the impact of its sentiment.

The camera company, Kodak, presents a good example of the effect of digital disruption on an industry. Kodak was well known for its tradition to capture sentimental moments with its quality camera, and its film. Over time, it began to evolve into an optician chain. However, they were unable to keep up with the numerous changes to satisfy customers' requirements.

As a consequence, brands like Canon, which embraced the fast-paced technological developments, won over the hearts of the consumers with their new technology.  However, Kodak was reluctant to change their principles and failed to embrace new technologies. As a result, this led to the rapid shrinkage in their market share, and they declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Another sector the Guardian can learn from is the Healthcare Industry. NHS direct was a nurse-led service established in 1998 that provided the basic healthcare advice to callers, assessed their circumstance and transferred to the necessary service (Joanne, 2012).  

Unfortunately, they shut down because of their unwillingness to compromise their services at an agreed price. As well as this, NHS 111 has proven to be able to provide more services. NHS Direct was more based on self-care advice whereas NHS 111 is where they can direct you to your nearest service based on the information provided by the patient. From this, it seems that their service is more trusted and resulted in much less deaths. (Johnson, 2014). So, the challenges the NHS is currently facing today are completely different from yester years. If a giant organisation such as the NHS can embrace and harness the opportunities of the digital era, so should the Guardian newspaper.

Taken together, I believe the lesson the Guardian can learn from these examples is that it is best to embrace new trends or new way of doing things, especially the evolving technological innovations, and to understand that the requirements of customers are elastic.

What role might the forces of automation and augmentation play in reshaping the operations and productivity of the Guardian workforce in the future?

In order to address this question, it is firstly important to define the terms “Augmentation” and “Automation.” Marc Andreessen advanced a theory that “the world would soon be divided into those people who told computers what to do (Automation), and those who are told what to do by computers (Augmentation).” (Andreessen, 2018).

Automation, according to Groover Mikel (Groover,2014) is defined as “the technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance”.  Also, this can be defined as technology enabling to replace humans effectively in their jobs. Automation can be found in various places, for example, self-checkout counters, artificial intelligence, and in chatbots and many more.

On the other hand, Augmentation is, according to Engelbart ,"Increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems.” ((Engelbart and Engelbart, 1962)

I believe that both automation and augmentation will have significant impact on the Guardian in terms of operation and productivity.   Automation, whilst resulting in an increased productivity may be a hindrance in terms of use, price, risk relating to privacy and security, and the need to developing a user-friendly software.

 Systems failure would result in readers not accessing the site for information and this would result in a fall in advertising. The long term impact of automation on jobs cannot be understated as these would result in humans being replaced by machines.

 Machines are going to replace humans in order to maintain high productivity. Serious issue remains- how reliable would be humans in working alongside machines in order to increase productivity? Particularly, it would be very challenging to continue to be responsive to the evolving needs of readers as more advancement in technology know-how continues to progress rapidly.

I believe that the role that automation may play regarding reshaping the operations and productivity is that they need to be there to verify the truth received from the augmented operations, before publishing can commence, in order to prevent defaming their reputation of producing truthful, dependable journalism . According to Andreessen, from a recent OECD study, 1 in 6 jobs in industrial countries were bound to be lost due to automation. However, this seems to be on the contrary, there is still a transformation due to take place, which is not for the benefit of consumers.

One feature of automation pointed out is that many of the innovative jobs are more inferior and uninteresting than the replacement jobs. Whilst the hypothesis was correct, there are more drawbacks. The salary as well as the job can be seen as less reliable.

Should the Guardian Media Group invest in other profitable industries to cover the ongoing projected losses for the newspaper publishing business?

I do not think it would be sensible for the GMG to invest in other areas in order to cover the ongoing losses of the Guardian newspaper. In order to remain in the publishing business and not to rely or invest in other profitable industries for survival, I feel the Guardian needs to update itself continuously, especially as the massive pace of new technologies is evolving rapidly.

All industries are currently experiencing the impact of innovations and advancement in technology from banking to farming. The newspaper industry is equally affected and no business is exempted from the impact of evolving innovations. The newspaper would need to adopt or incorporate a strongly managed public relations strategy with a platform for readers to talk with each other.  That is the reason for the success of social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

The Guardian is not alone in struggling to find a sustainable business model for quality journalism. Are there any ‘economy of scale' innovations possible for the entire industry

There are many formidable challenges posed by innovation and technology to all newspapers as a whole, including the Guardian. Innovation and technological advancements are usually designed to meet the insatiable needs of readers. In the present time, and in my considered view, I do not think there is any economy of scale innovations for the newspaper industry. In this day, access to readily available information and sharing with peers globally is common, inexpensive and can be executed effortlessly through sending an SMS or chatting in user-group forum on line. The industry would need to convince readers to download the necessary app to their mobile phones, etc, in order to access information. It is equally challenging to keep up pace with the evolving changes in technology and innovation, both likely to result in poor returns in advertising revenues and investigative journalism.

References

Andreessen, M. (2018). The Guardian view on automation: put human needs first | Editorial. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/02/the-guardian-view-on-automation-put-human-needs-first [Accessed 3 Aug. 2018].

Engelbart, C. and Engelbart, D. (1962). Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. [online] Dougengelbart.org. Available at: http://www.dougengelbart.org/pubs/augment-3906.html [Accessed 3 Aug. 2018].

Groover, M. (2014). Fundamentals of modern manufacturing. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Marr, B. (2018). The Key Definitions Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) That Explain Its Importance. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/02/14/the-key-definitions-of-artificial-intelligence-ai-that-explain-its-importance/#656f15574f5d [Accessed 2 Aug. 2018].

Mnielsen.github.io. (n.d.). Engelbart: "Augmenting Human Intellect". [online] Available at: http://mnielsen.github.io/notes/engelbart/engelbart.html [Accessed 1 Aug. 2018].

Office, G. (2017). Guardian Media Group moves print titles to tabloid format as part of three-year transformation programme. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/gnm-press-office/2017/jun/13/guardian-media-group-moves-print-titles-to-tabloid-format-as-part-of-three-year-transformation-programme [Accessed 28 Jul. 2018].

Oxford College of Marketing Blog. (n.d.). Digital Disruption: What Is It and How Does It Impact Businesses? - Oxford College of Marketing Blog. [online] Available at: https://blog.oxfordcollegeofmarketing.com/2016/02/22/what-is-digital-disruption/ [Accessed 1 Aug. 2018].

Raut, S. (2017). Impact of Digital disruption on Education sector | CIO WaterCooler | CIOs CTOs & Change Agents. [online] CIO WaterCooler | CIOs CTOs & Change Agents. Available at: https://ciowatercooler.co.uk/impact-of-digital-disruption-on-education-sector/ [Accessed 31 Jul. 2018].

Sweney, M. (2017). Guardian and Observer to relaunch in tabloid format. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jun/13/guardian-and-observer-to-relaunch-in-tabloid-format [Accessed 31 Jul. 2018].

the Guardian. (2010). Guardian reader profile. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/advertising/advertising-guardian-readership-profile [Accessed 6 Aug. 2018].

the Guardian. (2017). History of the Guardian and the Observer. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/gnm-archive/2014/dec/18/histories-of-the-newspapers [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].

The Guardian. (2017). Key moments in the Guardian's history: a timeline. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/gnm-archive/2002/jun/11/1 [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].

Triggle, N. (2013). NHS Direct to close down next year. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24651402 [Accessed 2 Aug. 2018].

Tsang, A. (2018). The Guardian, Britain's Left-Wing News Power, Goes Tabloid. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/business/media/guardian-tabloid-uk.html [Accessed 31 Jul. 2018].

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