Sept. 12, 2006
By Elizabeth Boyle
The E.W. Scripps Co. gave the state of Ohio its first television station, ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland, in 1947. But it's done a lot more than that, company President and CEO Kenneth Lowe said Tuesday during a keynote address marking a historic contribution to Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication.
Scripps has been on the cutting edge of each media trend that has emerged in the past 130 years -- from company founder E.W. Scripps' Penny Press to wire news services to radio to the Internet. With the pace of today's society, staying out front is harder than ever.
"Prospering in today's media market means getting ahead of the trends," Lowe said in a booming broadcast-style voice. No one, including Scripps, can afford to be complacent.
By the end of 2005, five million people had watched video on their cell phones, he explained. News is updated on the Web by the minute; even news that's hours old is ancient history. Media companies are migrating video to their Web sites. And there's a whole slew of consumer electronic devices on the market changing the way we watch video (including a device Lowe described called a Slingbox, which lets users watch television on laptops from anywhere in the world).
Lowe, who founded and launched the company's niche television cable network HGTV, said Scripps' efforts to remain at the forefront of changing media include developing ways for companies to advertise in interactive ways ("We have to do more than just transplant traditional marketing on the Internet," he said) and incorporating mediums such as video on its Food Network Web site. Scripps, which owns online comparison shopping tools Shopzilla and uSwitch, is one of the top 15 companies doing business on the Internet, he noted.
"The real power is in the hands of the media consumers. We'll be the ones -- with our cell phones, our computers, our iPods -- saying what form the media will take next," he said.
Elizabeth Boyle is a writer for University Communications and Marketing.