A call to action for newspaper staffs


New rounds of layoffs, home delivery cutbacks and advertising losses remind us of the urgency we must have in changing the newspaper business.

Many journalists are engaged in that change every day. Each day they find resistance from colleagues who either aren’t thinking about the future or don’t clearly see the options facing the industry.

Last week, Digital First CEO John Paton helped delineate those alternatives with a presentation that should be required reading for every journalist today.

His probably isn’t the only path to success — everything continues to evolve — but he does clearly articulate a clear path to failure. His alternative: Cut print production costs; invest in digital alternatives.

We must keep shrinking the time and cost of putting out a print product while we spend more of our time and money investing in digital.

Everyone at every level can play a role:

  • Reporters must get the first word up quickly (and add later).
  • Line editors must see the urgency of assigning immediately and posting as soon as the first word is filed.
  • Copy editors must identify which stories can get a quick read and which need more time.
  • Photographers (or reporters) must be able to snap and file the immediate weather photo on the way to another assignment.
  • Managers must find ways start to change away from the slow, methodical culture of print and look for and invest in new efficiencies.

Everyone must think about the future that is evolving.

“Editors resisting change are aided and abetted by lousy CEOs and news executives who refuse to take the necessary risks to build this industry’s future,” Paton wrote.

It’s a call to action that everyone should consider.


One comment

  1. Hi Gary,

    My name is Dani Maddox, and I am the editor-in-chief of Tulane’s college newspaper. After going to the National Association of Collegiate Press Convention, which came to New Orleans this fall, I’ve set out to make our organization a digital-first news source (we print a 16-page broadsheet weekly right now). Yikes! So much work, but I know it’s where we need to go if we’re going to make it. We have to completely restructure our newsroom. Really enjoyed a few of your posts – will certainly take some inspiration from here!

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