Everyone in the news business knows at some level, even if they’re having trouble admitting it, that the future is digital.
I’ve spent much of the past 15 years fighting legacy-media issues, mostly in the newspaper business but also for a couple companies in the TV business. I had great experiences, but hit brick walls when resistance to change blinded the companies to new approaches, new ideas or new revenue streams.
So I jumped earlier this year at the chance to work for a company that unabashedly proclaimed itself “Digital First,” led by a CEO, John Paton, who sought my advice, shared my vision of the future and asked me to help him achieve that vision.
I’ve enjoyed my first three-plus months on the job, visiting 18 different newsrooms and helping my Journal Register Co. colleagues use social media, blog networks, curation, crowdsourcing and other aspects of community engagement to elevate our journalism.
Today Journal Register Co. takes a new direction that I can’t address in detail yet because we’re still working out the details.
JRC has been getting a fair amount of attention in the news business with our innovation efforts in a lot of small and mid-sized newsrooms (the New Haven Register in Connecticut and Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich., being the biggest). Today we move into larger communities, work with a bigger company and pursue higher stakes in our quest for the digital future.
An agreement announced today creates a new JRC subsidiary, Digital First Media, which will operate MediaNews Group, the second largest newspaper company in the United States by circulation (not that Digital First will use print circulation as a primary measure of success). John becomes CEO of Digital First and MediaNews as well as JRC. We will bring the Digital First approach to metro news operations in such communities as Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and the Twin Cities.
I don’t yet know what our plan for MediaNews will be. I don’t yet know what my specific role will be. We’ll work all that out in the weeks to come.
JRC will be pursuing our Digital First strategy on a huge stage with a lot of people in the news business watching. It’s put-up-or-shut-up time. Watch us put up.
For more about JRC and Digital First: