Saturday, February 27, 2010

You've seen the TV show 'Undercover Boss'? Forgetta bout it: This boss operates in the open field

I started a column in The Record last July - and earlier this week added to the effort by beginning to blog - largely to begin a conversation with the community about the transformation going on at The Record.

Tonight the CEO of the parent company of The Record, Journal Register Co., John Paton, one-upped me by launching a blog to chronicle his effort to transform our entire company.

According to John, his blog will "be my account of how we, the employees of Journal Register Company, make the neccessary changes to ensure our Company’s future. By sharing publicly our actions I hope we can spark true debate in our Company on what we are doing right and wrong and extend that debate to include the public and the newspaper industry at large."

It is a grand experiment - both the process itself and the writing about it. Happy reading: John's blog

Friday, February 26, 2010

Social networking & The Record

We launched a Facebook page for The Record this week; once we have a 100 "fans" we can create a simple URL for it ie. ... but until then the best way to find it is to search Facebook for "The Record"; it should come up on the first page of results. As an incentive to sign up as a "fan" we'll give a $25 gift certificate to one fan at random is we can get 100 users in the next 15 days; see our Facebook site for details.

If you tweet (or don't tweet but follow them), we have four Twitter accounts with news alerts:

- The first is primarily news alerts; see

- The second is primarily sports alerts; see

- The third focuses on Latham-area news; see

- Lastly, I tweet about things going on at The Record and in media, with the occasional alert on something of broader interest; see

We also have 13 blogs at and are looking for more "citizen journalists" to join us. More on this in my next column in The Record, which will also be posted here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We'd rave about newspapers if they were invented today

The following is reprinted by permission from Ken Paulson, president of the Newseum and the Freedom Forum in Washinington, D. C., and the former editor of USA Today.

I can understand why newspapers are not viewed as trendy today. After all, they were really the iPods of 1690.

But humor me, and consider this alternate history: Imagine if Gutenberg had invented a digital modem rather than a printing press, and that for centuries all of our information had come to us online.

Further, imagine if we held a press conference announcing the invention of an intriguing new product called the “newspaper.”

That press conference might go something like this:

We're pleased to announce a new product that will revolutionize the way you access information. It will save you time and money and keep you better informed than ever before. Just consider the hours you've spent on the internet looking for information of interest to you. We've hired specialists who live and work in your hometown to cull information sources and provide a daily report tailored to your community, your friends and your neighbors.

We also know that you sometimes wonder whether you can trust the information you see online. We plan to introduce a painstaking new process called 'fact-checking' in which we actually verify the information before we pass it along to you.

In addition to saving time online, you'll also save money. You won't need those expensive color ink cartridges or reams of paper because information will be printed out for you in full color every day.

You’ll also save money on access charges and those unpleasant fights over who gets time on the computer because this product will be physically delivered to your home at the same time each day, for less than what you would tip the guy from Pizza Hut. You worry about your kids stumbling across porn on the internet, but this product is pre-screened and guaranteed suitable for the whole family.

And in a security breakthrough, we guarantee newspapers to be absolutely virus-free, and promise the elimination of those annoying pop-up ads. It's also the most portable product in the world, and doesn’t require batteries or electricity. And when the flight attendant tells you to turn off your electronic devices, you can actually turn this on, opening page after page without worrying about interfering with the plane's radar.

To top it all off, you don't need a long-term warranty or service protection program. If you're not happy with this product on any day, we'll redesign it and bring you a new one the next day.

I can see the headlines now: "Cutting-edge newspapers threaten Google’s survival.”

My point, of course, is that newspapers remain an extraordinary information bargain, and we shouldn't be selling them short or lose sight of the qualities that make American journalism so critical to our democracy.

When we do our jobs as journalists the right way, when we strive everyday to publish reports of integrity and balance, when we ask the tough questions, when we fight to keep the public’s business public and when we provide the kind of thorough and balanced reporting that is the life blood of a democracy, we fulfill our promise to that first generation of Americans who believed that one of the best ways to guarantee a democracy was a free and vigorous press.

There are people counting on us.

Newspaper Web sites: Most used and valued sites for consumers

A study released this week demonstrates newspaper Web sites lead all media as the most used and valued sites for consumers seeking credible and trustworthy local content and advertising online.

The study, conducted by comScore for the Newspaper Association of America, found approximately 57 percent of the 3,050 respondents identified local newspaper Web sites as the top online source for local information -- ahead of all other media. That percentage grows for upper income households (63 percent) and for the college educated (60 percent).

The strength of local newspaper Web sites was made clear when respondents to the survey were asked to identify sites they used most often for specific types of local content. Newspaper sites ranked first as a source for local information (29 percent), local sports (27 percent), local entertainment (26 percent) and local classifieds (39 percent), ahead of both local television Web sites and online portals.

Local newspaper Web sites also ranked first among all sources for trustworthiness, credibility and being the most informative place to find local content of all types – including news, information, entertainment, sports and classified advertising. When respondents were asked what sources were most trustworthy or reliable, local newspaper Web sites bested local television for local information (34 vs. 22 percent), for local sports (30 vs. 24 percent), for local entertainment (30 vs. 20 percent) and by 29 points for local classifieds (42 vs. 13 percent).

The survey also found that consumers consider local newspaper Web sites to be the most trusted source of online advertising, with ads that are perceived to be more current, credible and relevant to them.

Forty percent said online advertising is influenced by the type of Web site on which the ad appears. Of those, local newspaper sites ranked first in trustworthiness of advertising. Thirty-six percent selected local newspaper Web sites for trustworthy advertising compared to 23 percent for local television Web sites and 12 percent for online portals. And local newspaper sites were the clear winner across all demographic categories – even among the younger 18 – 34 age group, leading the second-ranked television Web sites (35 vs. 22 percent), and online portals (35 vs. 11 percent).

Seventy-eight percent across all demographic groups rated “more likely to be current” as the top reason advertising on local newspaper Websites are most trustworthy. Credibility and local relevance were also important factors with close to 50 percent of respondents citing these attributes for reasons behind local newspapers advertising trustworthiness.

The comScore survey results follow initial data from “Consumer Insights,” a new study conducted by MORI Research, that indicates newspaper advertising remains the leading advertising medium cited by consumers in planning, shopping and making purchasing decisions. The survey of more than 3,000 adults found that 82 percent of adults said they “took action” as a result of newspaper advertising – from clipping a coupon or making a purchase to visiting a Web site.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

We will get the new 'news ecology' right

The following was written for publication in The Record.

I have been involved in the Web side of the newspaper business in one way or another for a little more than a decade. My direct involvement started when I was named online manager of a Gannett newspaper and asked to produce that organization’s first Web site, continuing through last spring when a newspaper online site I oversaw in another company was recognized as the best community Web site in the nation by a trade organization.

And I have never been more energized about a newspaper company’s future digitally as I was when I recently met our company’s brand new CEO, John Paton, on his first day of work.

Paton joins the Journal Register Company from impreMedia LLC, a company he co-founded in 2003. impreMedia has evolved into the top news and information company in online and print serving the U.S. Hispanic community. In 2009, Editor & Publisher magazine recognized Paton for transforming what was a legacy news media organization into a modern multi-platform company by naming him "Publisher of the Year." He was also named a "Media All-Star" by AdWeek magazine's Marketing y Medios.

I can see why our new boss has received media attention when you consider the pronouncements he made on his first day on the job:

  • Every reporter in our company will have a point-and-shoot, high-definition video camera within 30 days. The breadth and depth of our video coverage will expand exponentially as a company over the coming months.
  • JRC will upgrade and enhance its information technology infrastructure so that our employees can fully participate in the new news ecology (more on that later).
  • The company is establishing Community Journalism Media Labs immediately in six of its communities. At all of our newspapers we are going to bring the outside world in to our company and work with entrepreneurial journalists. “We will establish both content and sales arrangements with these local entrepreneurs to increase our coverage, audience and sales to our mutual benefit,” he said.

Elements of the new “news ecology” include empowerment by media companies of citizen journalists to help them report through their own eyes what is going on in their communities; a news cycle that is mobile-first in news delivery; and one where all technologies are employed to give consumers what they want, how they want it, when they want it.

None of this represents an abandonment of our print products. In fact, this effort will enhance our newspapers as we refocus our resources to use newsprint to present more compelling journalism.

We will communicate more on these developments over the course of the spring as they evolve. But a few hints of what is to come: We will look for more “citizen journalists” to participate in our news gathering, much like the bloggers and community columnists we have now. We will present new marketing opportunities to the business community. We will launch new products and communication channels. And we will look for institutional partners to jointly develop content and business opportunities. But please, don’t wait for our announcements; if you have ideas or questions please contact me at

Earlier this week there was a Local Online Advertising Conference attended by 400 media professionals in New York. Jeff Jarvis, author of the book “What Would Google Do?” and an associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York’s new Graduate School of Journalism, was the opening speaker. He reportedly stopped his presentation at one point to tell the audience to watch John Paton and the Journal Register Company over the coming months. He said, “Follow this company; they are going to get this right”.

We will “get it right”. And it is going to exciting for the communities we serve.