All reporters at the Journal-Register Co. (JRC) will get video cameras, under an ambitious plan to bring the newspaper into the digital age, the company's 3,100 employees have been told. The company's new CEO John Paton has also told staff that they now work for a 'media company', not a 'newspaper company'. Appropriately enough, he announced the news in a seven-minute slideshow, emailed companywide, the New Haven Independent reports.
"We're not looking to make any cuts," Paton told the Independent. "We need to improve [local coverage]. We don't need to make it worse." The company, which runs 19 daily and 150 other newspapers, including the flagship New Haven Register, filed for bankruptcy last February.
Paton seems to have the experience to make real changes: he's been in the news business since starting out as a copy boy at the Toronto Sun at age 19, working his way up through the ranks of reporters and editors. Most recently he ran the Spanish-language news chain ImpreMedia, and was named 'Publisher of the Year' by Editor and Publisher for his work building the company. He oversaw transformations there that saw staff move from filing stories for print once a day to filing throughout the day with video as well as text.
"All roads," his presentation reads, "no longer lead to print." Thus, Paton has a number of plans to embrace the digital age. He has announced that all reporters at the company will have Flip HD video cameras within 30 days. JRC will launch 'community journalism media labs' and pursue partnerships with community bloggers and community institutions. It will also consider relationships with outside partners such as New Haven's SeeClickFix, which he says can produce new revenue and also free up the editor to focus on journalism. Paton has appointed a JRC steering committee to work on these projects.
This announcement may seem unusual in an age where newspapers, even local newspapers, have largely embraced digital publishing. Indeed, the New Haven Register has a well-established website. But Paton's plans make it clear that he understands the difference between simply reproducing print articles on the web, and fully taking advantage of the possibilities it offers, in terms of video and audio as well as new relationships between audiences, journalists and publishers.
The Register continues to operate at a profit, Paton said, despite the financial trouble of the rest of the company. He also outlined his belief that paid advertising will continue to pay most of the bills for news organisations, including from new channels of advertising such as on mobile devices and social networks. There's a need to slash non-editorial and non-advertising costs to compete with non-print companies, he said. At ImpreMedia, for example, he outsourced printing presses and delivery trucks.
In amongst all this talk of bloggers and video cameras, what about print? Print will always have a role in the new model, Paton said, but how central a role remains to be seen.
Source: New Haven Independent