A Harvard professor lectures on how whole industries have found it impossible to reinvent themselves in the face of technological revolution. He tells newspaper groups they will have to change almost everything in order to survive. Along comes his church (yes) and asks him to save their own 160-year-old daily paper. In a few short years, the professor becomes a media industry hero.
There has always been comms. There has always been public affairs. There has always been PR. There has always been spin. Read the bible for heaven's sake. What is new is not spin but the reality of a globalized media age, an information economy, a world where technology is accelerating the pace of change on an exponential basis.
We have a Royal Charter that has been approved by every single party in Parliament. It is backed by the mass of public opinion. And it is based on the recommendations of a year-long, judge-led public inquiry of remarkable thoroughness. And now the people who run some of our big newspaper corporations - an industry condemned by that inquiry for 'wreaking havoc in the lives of innocent people' - say they have made a concession towards it.
The 18th century was a Golden Age for newspapers. The Georgian press delighted in cataloguing the vices of the age, and playwrights, politicians, actors, and courtesans were all afforded celebrity status by magazines and popular prints of the period. The parallels with today's media are startlingly obvious.
This is not a story that can be understood from headlines alone, partly because in Britain the headlines have so often wildly distorted the truth. Despite what you may have read, there is no threat by British politicians to interfere with press freedom. There is, however, a powerful consensus for change.
As a practicing lawyer frequently representing a cross-section of victims ranging from A-listers to politicians, while at the same time also having a significant number of journalists and publishers on my client list, I often have to change hats when arguing for press freedom on the one hand, and striving to protect the basic reputational and other rights of the ordinary man on the street on the other.