‘Innovation is the new normal,’ Crovitz tells media executives at ‘Media Business’ ’ Top Innovators luncheon

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New York—As business information companies and their customers grapple with dizzying changes in the industry, they must realize that whenever a new technology becomes available people tend to overestimate consumer behavior in the short term but underestimate it in the long term, said L. Gordon Crovitz, exec VP of Dow Jones & Co. and publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Crovitz made his comments Tuesday at Media Business’ fourth annual Top Innovators in Business Publishing Awards luncheon.

“From a marketing point of view, the pace of change still has a long way to go,” Crovitz said, referring to the constant upheaval in media. He said that although it’s anybody guess where media markets go from here, for media companies, “innovation is the new normal.”

Crovitz, who won an Innovator Award in 2004 in what was then called the “New Media” category, accepted an Innovator Award Tuesday on behalf of Richard Zannino, Dow Jones CEO. Zannino, who was traveling and unable to attend the luncheon, was recognized as a Top Executive (general business).

Since taking charge in February 2006, “Zannino has adjusted the company to deliver the brand however, wherever and whenever readers want,” Crovitz said, adding that Dow Jones plans to reduce its print revenue to 50% of overall revenue by 2010, from 60% this year.

Addressing the ongoing efforts of News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch to acquire Dow Jones, Crovitz said: “We’re delighted to have an offer of $60 a share when our stock had been trading in the $30 range. It’s proof that there’s something different about The Wall Street Journal.

Tad Smith, CEO of Reed Business Information, who was named Top Executive (large trade), used his acceptance speech to address what he said was something that business media executives prefer not to talk about: the close connection between innovation and failure.

“Failure is an important part of the innovation process,” he said. “Failure is intrinsically bad, but failure in and of itself is good in terms of doing things and then learning from them. But doing the same thing and not learning from it is not a good thing.”

Charles McCurdy, CEO of Canon Communications, who was recognized as Top Executive (small trade), said his latest innovation has been to focus on “green” manufacturing practices in Canon’s events for the advanced manufacturing marketplace. “We’re doing what we can in this area to respond to the market in both the U.S. and Europe,” he said. McCurdy is also CEO of Canon’s parent company, Apprise Media.

The Top Innovator awards recognize media executives for the innovative ways in which they’ve extended their company’s brands. Awards are given in six categories: top executive, publisher, editor, online, production and circulation. The categories are broken into three divisions: large trade, small trade (less than $200 million in annual revenue) and general business. Tuesday’s luncheon at the Hilton New York, attracted 150 people.

Below is a list of this year’s Top Innovators:

Top Executive

  • Large: Tad Smith, CEO, Reed Business Information
  • Large: Charles McCurdy, CEO, Canon Communications
  • General: Richard Zannino, CEO, Dow Jones & Co.
  • Large: Evilee Ebb, CEO-publisher, Network World
  • Small: Bob Bragdon, publisher, CSO
  • General: Paul Rossi, publisher, The Economist, North America
  • Large: Ellen Koteff, editor in chief, Nation’s Restaurant News
  • Small: Glenn Zorpette, executive editor, IEEE Spectrum
  • General: Paul Maidment, editor,
  • Large: Colin Crawford, senior VP-online, IDG Communications
  • Small: Mark Harling, VP-business development, Putman Media
  • General: Vivek Shah, president-digital publishing, Time Inc.
  • Large: Joy Puzzo, corporate circulation director, Advanstar Communications
  • Small: Leann Sandifar, audience development director, Ascend Media
  • Large: Marie Myers, senior VP-manufacturing, CMP Technology
  • Small: Robert Brai, production director, Northstar Travel Media
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