Journal Register Company employees are being given an extra week's pay this week, after the company surpassed its profit targets in 2010, CEO John Paton explained in an a note to employees.
Paton took over the financially struggling company in February 2010, and promised that if the company made a profit, he would share with the staff. And it has, with more than $41m in profit brought in in 2010.
Paton took an aggressive approach to transforming the local media company. He let go the managing editors who he didn't think could help him, and promoted the director of digital content to VP of news, meaning that traditionally-print journalists were suddenly working under him. He also sold every asset connected to print production, and outsourced these functions instead. And he created an ideas lab, which anybody in the company could apply to with an idea. If their idea was approved they were given 25% of their time to work on this.
So far, Paton seems confident with the way his changes have been going. "We learned to harness both cloud and crowd. Using new tools and working the new news ecology we produced new digital products and revenue streams AND reduced costs. We focused on what we do best and linked to the rest," he said.
"We learned how to put out daily newspapers and websites using only free web tools," he continued, and praised contributions to the ideaLab. "We put about 1,000 Flip cams in your hands and we now produce about 4,000 minutes of original local news video per week. Stay tuned for more on that next quarter - think JRC TV.|
"You changed our culture and how we think. And we are a better Company for that," he concluded.
The Register Citizen, JRC's paper in Torrington, Connecticut, underwent some significant changes in December when it built an 'open newsroom' that includes a café, a Community Media Lab, a Community Journalism School and a Local News Library, all of which are free and open to the general public. The idea is to invite the community to be a part the journalism process at every step, and Paton indicated at the time that this effort would be expanded to all other company properties. Incidentally, the Register Citizen just got a new editor, Rick Thomason, according to the Litchfield County Times.
Do these recent profits mean that Paton's innovative approach has paid off? Has the promise to share profits with staff, as well as encouraging them to offer their ideas and feel involved in the company's recovery provided considerable motivation?
Source: Digital First