business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

A couple of stories caught my attention this week as a couple of companies seemed to acting in a counter-intuitive fashion ... growing in segments that many people thought were dying, albeit for different reasons.

The New York Times reported that "the United Record Pressing plant, a mainstay of vinyl production since 1949, would be expanding its operations to a new 142,000-square-foot facility in South Nashville ... United said that the new facility, estimated to be the size of 'two football fields,' would double the plant’s production capacity, and that the expansion would help the country’s largest vinyl manufacturer keep pace with strong market demand."

Which is sort of remarkable, since vinyl has seemed to be on the way out for a long time, replaced by tapes and then by CDs and then again by streaming. I'm not an audiophile, but I am persuaded by people who are that the reason vinyl has survived - and now is growing - simply is because it offers better sound.

In other words, quality won out.

The other story was in Publishers Daily, which wrote that the Washington Post "plans to expand its newsroom by about 60 journalists in early 2017 -- a large number of hires at a time when many publishers are making staff cuts." These hires come after a year in which the Post increased its newsroom staffing by more than eight percent, to around 750 people.

In 2017, the story says, "the Post plans to add a 'rapid-response' investigative team and expand its video journalism, especially its mobile video production. Journalists will also be added to the Post’s breaking news team, and the publisher will invest in its podcasts, photography and mobile."

In this case, there are two reasons for the Post strategy. One is that subscriptions are up. But they're up at the Wall Street Journal, too, but the Journal is offering buyouts rather than hiring ... which points to the importance of the other reason.

Jeff Bezos. The Amazon founder and billionaire. Who bought the Post in 2013 and last year alone invested a reported $50 million in the company.

In this case, I think, quality and financial resources won out. (I'm sure some folks will quibble with the "quality" characterization. Not me, though. One of the best job interviews I ever had was at the Washington Post, which took place in its old and legendary newsroom, just a few doors down from where Ben Bradlee was at his desk. I didn't get the job, but I felt like I'd been to the Vatican and caught a glimpse of the Pope.)

It is good to know - and an Eye-Opener - that some companies and industries can successfully sail against prevailing winds. I think we're better for it, because for them to be successful, they have to be driving innovation.
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