Welcome Beacon readers….Why ANOTHER newspaper?

Later today, when the people of the Flathead open their mailboxes, the inaugural weekly print edition of the Flathead Beacon will be waiting for them.

I suspect that lots of people will wonder…why another newspaper? After all, we already have the Daily Interlake plus weekly community papers like the Whitefish Pilot, Bigfork Eagle and Hungry Horse News.

I think it’s kind of a silly question, but I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about it. Not everyone has had that chance, so read along and see if you agree.

Here’s another way to look at it: How many radio stations does the Flathead have? How many blogs? How many cable news channels do we get from Bresnan?

Don’t bother counting. It’s IRRELEVANT.

It’s competition. Does anyone ask why we need another Army-Navy store? Unless you’re Snappy’s, probably not.

People will view the Beacon as a newspaper, but it’s far more than that. It’s a newspaper, a website, a source of video and audio news, an example of Web2.0 (buzzword alert!) social networking, and if it isn’t careful, it’ll be a lot more. For a while, it’ll be the only professional, real-time news source the Valley has.

Watch carefully as the Interlake, HHN, Pilot and Eagle respond. I will be, and not just because I write a column for the Beacon. Watching the reaction to competition is always educational.

Want to know what the Beacon REALLY is? It’s a rare opportunity for a fresh new team of experienced journalists with no existing “we’ve always done it this way” baggage (good or bad) to take the news and community information in a direction that someone, somewhere thinks it needs to go. It’s not a reflection, at least not directly, on the existing media.

Instead it’s a YouTube-esque response to how our lives are changing.

Therein lies the business lesson: It’s EXACTLY what Flathead business owners should be thinking about when they look in the mirror. Where am I vulnerable in my line of work? How can my business be impacted by someone who is thinking about things I’m just not paying attention to?

What would I do in my line of work if I had no clients, no stock, no building and no people? What if I could build it from scratch, tomorrow?

What would you do?

What would half a dozen people who are 5, 6 or 10 years out of college, with experience in your line of work, do if they came to the Flathead and started a new business to compete with you?

Once you figure that out, ask yourself: Why don’t I do it before someone else does?

That’s a question that the existing papers should have been asking themselves over the last month or so as word of the Beacon’s arrival crept across the valley – and that’s ok. Sometimes the best thing to happen to you is some young whippersnapper enters your game and shakes things up.

Welcome to the jungle.