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Cold comfort: Lessons for the 21st-century newspaper industry from the 20th-century ice industry

Journal article
Authors Andrew Duffy
Rich Ling
Oscar Westlund
Published in Media Industries Journal
Volume 4
Issue 2
Pages 22-43
ISSN 2373-9037
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 22-43
Language en
Subject categories Communication Studies, Media Studies, Information Systems, Social aspects


First cut from frozen lakes and later manufactured on an industrial scale, ice was, in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, big business. The arrival of domestic refrigeration spelled the end of this industry. The rise and fall of the ice industry offers lessons to the modern newspaper industry, which faces a similar threat. Drawing an analogy between the ice and newspaper industries in terms of innovation and organizational learning, we look at how both are/were hampered by investment in technology and identity, and affected by devolution of control into consumers’ hands. Based on this, we suggest that the newspaper industry would benefit from links with heterogeneous rather than isomorphic partners to counterbalance routines that obstruct change, and just as refrigeration forced a reconceptualization of the concrete “ice” into the abstract “cold,” newspaper organizations can re-imagine themselves around the services and values they provide, rather than the product of “news.”

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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