Ultimately, the onus is on him.
Will he go all the way and truly transform what remains, by and large, a lineup that features one regurgitated newscast after another? Or will he, pardon my French, half-ass it because of the looks he's sure to receive from inside and outside CNN headquarters? They'll tell him he's crazy. That he's trashing the image of a once-respected institution. That, when they get there, James Earl Jones and Larry King will roll in their graves. These are age-old questions and observations that ultimately contain the answers to success or failure in these types of scenarios.
And they're not all that different from the challenges physical retail faces.
The call for wholesale change and a brand new, hyper-radical way of thinking at brick-and-mortar stores (I make the call in the above-linked article), shadows Zucker's situation at CNN.
Physical retailers such as Best Buy (BBY) and J. C. Penney (JCP) make cosmetic changes (lame store within a store "experiences) and go with rehashed tricks from the failed retail tool bag (deeper discounts, "better" customer service) because it's safe. And, often, these things produce short-term results. We have seen it with BBY. We might end up seeing it with JCP. But the sweet allure of short-term results -- made sweeter by Wall Street's mindless approval -- doesn't portend a long-term strategy.
Not in retail. Not in the media.
Like CNN, physical retail cannot be afraid to take its present "audience" and shock the living hell out of it. This means taking what we know as brick-and-mortar retail and getting as crazy with it as Jeff Bezos does with drones at Amazon.com (AMZN). Committing to a mindset that says This guy defines success in the modern era. And why is he -- and Amazon.com -- so wildly successful?
Because he believes in every part of everything he's doing. He knows it's right. He knows it's righteous. The critics don't faze him. Neither does the criticism because, after a while, it becomes faceless. It ends up smacking your office window like a tidal wave. However, if you commit to the strategy long enough to get wet (thanks, Elliott Smith), you have a fighting chance at being as successful as Jeff Bezos and game-changing, multiple-space altering Amazon.com.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.