Tags: newspaper | digital | print | local

Newspaper Chiefs: The Message Is Still the Medium

By    |   Thursday, 27 June 2013 08:17 AM

Here's to the ink-stained optimists at newspapers, even if the future is more digital coverage — and less print — of all the news that fits.

At a convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) this week, media executives aired both determination and optimism about the future of their craft, regardless of the distribution platform, USA Today reported.

Patrick Talamantes, CEO of McClatchy, owner of 30 newspapers, declared there is a "0 percent" chance in the next five years that the company will shutter any of its daily publishing operations.

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Other speakers discouraged talk of even cutting back daily print schedules.

"We're not contemplating it," said Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times. "Demand for the printed product remains incredibly strong."

At the same time, the ASNE panelists acknowledged that readers of all ages are gravitating to their online editions.

Gracia Martore, CEO of USA Today publisher Gannett, said the reporters there have a mandate to file stories in real time and not wait for the print edition deadlines.

"It's not the same newsroom we have five, 10 years ago. Print serves a role, but digital platforms are increasingly important. We've got to get off worrying about platforms."

The ASNE panelists concluded that emphasizing local content and reflecting their community of readers will help them satisfy their customers — and persuade their readers to pay for content, USA Today reported.

For instance, Martore noted Gannett's Des Moines Register, a traditional hotbed of politics during national election seasons, focuses on covering local politics, while the company's Fort Collins Coloradan newspaper emphasizes outdoor life.

Katherine Weymouth, publisher of The Washington Post, said her newspaper's website attracts global traffic, but distributes the print edition only locally and sticks with its unique local community.

"You have to think about what you do best," she said. "They expect us to explain Washington. It's not about trying to be elite."

At the Global Editors Network conference in Paris last week, John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, which operates a large collection of U.S. newspapers and websites, recommended some stiffer remedies for the industry.

Paton said that newspaper companies that believe they can change their businesses gradually are wrong, but that reliance on growing revenue from pay walls is not the solution.

Pay walls produce a "stack of digital pennies," and newspaper should focus on sharply reducing their legacy print expenses while investing in digital technologies, according to Paton.

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Here's to the ink-stained optimists at newspapers, even if the future is more digital coverage — and less print — of all the news that fits.
newspaper,digital,print,local
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2013-17-27
Thursday, 27 June 2013 08:17 AM
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