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Archive for August, 2013

I like competition in the news business.

I competed fiercely with the Des Moines Tribune when I worked at the Des Moines Register and with the Kansas City Star when I worked at the Kansas City Times, even though both times the same company owned both newspapers (and eventually they shut down the afternoon papers). More recently, I enjoyed battling over western Iowa turf with the Register when I worked at the Omaha World-Herald and I enjoyed TBD‘s competition with the Washington Post and with other Washington TV stations.

I always mourned the end of the competition, whether I worked for the surviving organization or the one that died or pulled back.

I also like when journalists get jobs. So I applaud and welcome the Orange County Register’s challenge in Long Beach to the Press-Telegram (a Digital First newsroom I visited Tuesday) with Monday’s launch of the Long Beach Register.

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This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

A busy editor might be tempted to dismiss diversity as a buzzword or a lofty goal you don’t have time for. You need to regard it as a matter of journalistic integrity and business survival.

Accuracy is the core of journalistic integrity, and your news will more accurately reflect the events and issues of your community as your staff better reflects your community. And your news organization will have a more prosperous future if your content appeals to the entire community, not just the aging white audience you probably have now. Your content will have broader appeal if your staff brings broader experiences and perspectives to news coverage.

The top editor needs to say the right things about diversity, but actions always trump words, so what you do is far more important than anything you say.

So here’s some advice from a middle-aged white guy for recruiting, hiring and retaining a diverse staff and for making sure that your content reflects the diversity of your community: (more…)

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I’m helping my Digital First colleagues recruit for several newsroom leadership positions.

I also know that hundreds of journalists — including, I suspect, some strong leaders — have recently lost their jobs with Patch, Gannett and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Other good journalists are still looking for work after earlier cutbacks elsewhere. Still others fear for their companies’ future and are looking for a better company to work for.

So here’s my offer to journalists who think they have what it takes to lead a Digital First newsroom (including Digital First colleagues who think they are ready to lead a newsroom or a larger newsroom): Make your pitch. (more…)

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In my years discussing disruptive innovation while teaching Newspaper Next concepts, I often said that newspapers’ advertising/circulation blinders kept us from developing a digital marketplace such as Amazon.

Well, now, we finally have Amazon’s disruptive founder in the newspaper business, with the Washington Post’s announced sale to Jeff Bezos.

I don’t have time to analyze the deal today — and wouldn’t trust such swift analysis if I did — but I am glad to see such a disruptor coming to the newspaper business. I think we can count on the Post moving beyond the narrow advertising/subscriptions model that is collapsing.

To see Bezos bringing his disruptive approach to the newspaper of Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee, Bob WoodwardCarl Bernstein, Dana Priest, Carol Guzy and Gene Weingarten is exciting and intriguing. I look forward to it in anticipation.

It’s not what Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan forecast in EPIC 2014, but that did forecast an amazing Amazon merger. So I’ll post it here as a reminder.

Disclosure: My wife, Mimi Johnson, published her novel, Gathering String, using Amazon’s self-publishing services.

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I got a chuckle (OK, and a bit of an ego boost) last week when a student blogger likened meeting me to meeting Brad Pitt. A louder chuckle (and not quite the ego boost) when I saw the photo accompanying a plug for my blog as one of the “experts” discussing the Boston Globe sale:

Other experts cited are accompanied by their real photos. I recognized Alan Mutter and Ken Doctor right away and Google searches confirmed that Michael Scully and Howie Carr were the people pictured with their comments. Jim Dempsey, a former columnist for the Worcester Telegram, got a stack of newspapers for his illustration. I presume they chose to illustrate me with a photo of some guy reading the newspaper (and about the age of a typical newspaper reader, too). But I’m pretty easy to find in Google. Or you could email me and ask for a photo.

For the record, this is what I look like. And the blog is The Buttry Diary, not The Daily Buttry.

Steve Buttry mug 2013

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In the past 20 years, a great American newspaper has lost 96 97 percent of its value.

The New York Times bought the Boston Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion. The Times today announced the sale of the Globe and related New England properties to John W. Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, for $70 million.

I used the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator to figure that $1.1 billion in 1993 is worth $1,777,540,000 today. And $70 million is less than 4 percent of that. (more…)

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