Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Journal Register Company newspapers, Web sites partner with The Street

All Journal Register Company newspapers, including four in New York - The Record, Oneida Daily Dispatch, Daily Freeman and Saratogian - have partnered with The Street, a leading financial news and information site.

This partnership allows each paper and its corresponding Web site to deliver more robust and extensive content to our audience.

From detailed analysis of stocks, bank and mortgage rates to extensive coverage of personal finance and the market forces impacting small businesses, we can now deliver more business focused news and information.

We will continue to expand this partnership to provide more detailed business content in our print edition of our newspapers in the coming weeks – including features like Jim Cramer articles and investment advice, automotive news and money-saving green energy news.

Log on to,, or  for more information.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oneida Daily Dispatch begins new chapter

The Oneida Daily Dispatch you read Monday was produced in much the same way it has been since the newspaper’s inception 160 years ago. It was written, edited, designed in our newsroom. It was printed on our presses at our 130 Broad Street facility. And it was picked up from our mailroom and delivered by carriers with whom we independently contracted.

But there were operational changes in how today’s edition was produced. It was written, edited and designed by those same journalists. But electronic files were transmitted from our newsroom to the pressroom at the Syracuse Newspapers some 30 miles west of here. It was printed there on a state-of-the-art press, driven back to the communities we serve on their truck, and picked up by Post-Standard carriers to deliver to our readers.

That is the simplest way to describe the changes we made today in the Oneida Daily Dispatch’s business model. But that doesn’t begin to describe why we made this change.

Let’s delve deeper into this decision and what it means for the future.

There was a time not too long ago when every newspaper housed every resource it needed within the same building: accounting, printing, photo processing, customer service, ad creation, Web design and so many more functions. Even newspapers owned by the same group in the same geographic area often had separate facilities and staffs. The business model at the time supported these large organizations and the available technology necessitated it.

But there have been a number of developments recently that have made it easier to accomplish virtually all of the non-news gathering and non-sales functions centrally, resulting in huge cost efficiencies. And there has been a significant shift in the economics of media ownership in the past decade that requires newspapers take advantage of each and every one of them. Finally, there has been a huge transformation in how readers consume news that propels these developments as well.

Outsourcing printing and distribution, a now-common model in the newspaper industry, accomplishes three things crucial to the future of the Oneida Daily Dispatch:

• It frees staff to focus on advertising and news gathering. No more trouble-shooting press and pre-press malfunctions. No more time spent recruiting carriers or subbing for vacancies in the mailroom. The list of things to manage is shorter, and more of the list is crucial to good journalism, superior customer service and effective marketing of our advertisers’ businesses.

• It will result in better service and a better product. The Syracuse Newspapers’ print facility is second-to-none in New York. The paper’s reproduction will be crisper; there will be more pages with color art and photography than before. And on the distribution side, they have a more sophisticated circulation infrastructure to manage and recruit carriers and to address delivery problems.

• Finally, the cost savings allows us to invest now in our future. More Americans today get their news online than from newspapers and nearly half (47 percent) get at least some local news from a mobile phone, according to the just-released State of the News Media report. It is important we find ways to fund the technology we need to address this rapidly growing demand for all things digital.

So does that mean with this project we are done altering our operations? Hardly. In fact, the transformation has just begun. Here is some of what is coming over the next 12 months:

• We will deliver the news our customers want - when, where and how they want it. Starting in April, we will expand our new delivery platforms with news and advertising mobile applications. Later in the year we will extend our mobile offerings to include coupons, video and QR codes, and we will launch electronic and tablet editions.

• We will engage more with our community … connecting with you more through social media; encouraging you to contribute more writing, video and photos; asking you more often what you want to see in our coverage; and organizing innumerable community conversations on topics of interest, as well as workshops such as our upcoming Community Media Lab event at the Oneida Public Library for newcomers to Twitter.

• We will redesign all of our print news products including the Oneida Daily Dispatch, the Rome Observer and Southern Madison County Living to make the design more current.

• We will continue to look for cost efficiencies as part of our effort to create a sustainable business model. We will use technology and shared resources to shed as many functions locally as possible that are not related to our core competencies of journalism and sales.

Our vision is to put you – the reader – at the center of all we do; to consistently deliver better and more diverse news and advertising products in every manner in which you wish to receive them; and to ensure we thrive in the coming years as the media landscape continues to transform swiftly and deeply.

Today’s development is an important step … but just one of many.

More on this development. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Journal Register Company making news again

The Journal Register Company - parent company to four NY dailies (Daily Freeman, Oneida Daily Dispatch, The Record, Saratogian) is making - not just writing - headlines again.

There were two big developments on Tuesday:
- First, at a time when furloughs are commonplace in the newspaper industry, JRC issued profit-sharing checks on Tuesday. The headline on CEO John Paton's blog says it all: "I promised. You delivered. Checks are cut". It is evident that the Digital First strategy launched last year is not only paying off for the company but employees, too.
- Second, one of the company's newspapers - The Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn. - was named among "10 Newspapers That Do it Right" by the trade publication Editor & Publisher. Torrington launched an innovative and highly popular Community Media Lab last December.

Ironically, both announcements came a day after it was reported that for the first time, more Americans get news online than from newspapers. It appears we at JRC can't work fast enough to fully implement our Digital First strategy.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Feast or famine: The art, science of event marketing at The Record's Community Media Lab in downtown Troy

I suspect accountants get queried regularly at this time of year for free tax advice. So when one publicly offers to give it for free, you would expect a mob.

Full house at a Troy Record
community discussion on
Irish geneaology.
Well, one of's community bloggers, Kevin O'Leary of Marvin and Company, P.C. in Latham, did just that this week. He held a discussion at The Record's Community Media Lab and no one showed up. We felt bad for Kevin but our attention turned quickly to a Irish genealogy talk a couple nights later. Were we poorly marketing these events? Did no one want to come to The Record and participate in our community discussions?

Well, in the space of a couple nights we had two very different turnouts. We had more people show up than space. More guests than chairs. All told - 50 people showed. A great problem to have  - especially on the heels of the outcome two nights earlier. Good thing we were already working on a solution to expand our Community Media Lab.

So, as The Record's Tom Caprood points out in his blog, we are learning in a trial-by-fire fashion how to organize, market and execute events. With three more scheduled in March (see link 1 and link 2) and a slew coming in subsequent months, I am sure we'll have more highs and lows. But we know three things for certain: We are onto something. We're going to get better at it. And we'll be much better for it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bringing the outside in; reflecting on the Times-Union's decision to close Troy, Saratoga news bureaus

Technology has certainly made it easier for journalists to interact with their readers. It is not only tools such as email, Facebook and Twitter that enables communication (and hopefully collaboration). But mobile technology - smart phones, netbooks and tablets - ensures reporters don't have to spend half or more of their workday in a newsroom; the gadgets free journalists to write and submit photos from anywhere. The smart ones plant themselves a good part of the day at coffee houses, libraries, parks, malls, beaches, courthouses, stadiums and elsewhere to increase their contact with the community.

To that end the Times Union announced this week it was closing bureaus in two communities where our parent company, the Journal Register Company, has newspapers: Saratoga and Troy. The TU admitted in the story on the bureau closings that saving money was a factor in the decision but spun the move to say it "could increase - rather than diminish - the presence of Times Union journalists in either city". The theory being, the story explained, if reporters didn't have an office to go to they might report from those aforementioned public places. But also note they used the word "could" not "would".

I am not going to quibble with any newspaper's attempts to save money. It has been a tough couple years financially for the industry and 2011 isn't shaping up to be any different. But I do think it is a mistake to pretend that a newspaper not having a physical place in the community is not important. For one, it adds to the tax base, and in these tough times when municipalities are strapped that support is important. But much more critical is having roots in the community. By at least one definition a community is, in part, a social group of whose members reside in a specific locality. By not being physically present, one automatically earns an "outsider" label. Yeah, there are digital communities, too. But in this context being able to identify your brand as truly being local requires one to be, well, local.

I would have been less inclined to publicly comment on this development if the TU story hadn't mentioned that our company is practicing "coffee-shop journalism" within some of its buildings, a reference to the much-publicized recent opening of the newsroom to the public at our sister paper in Torrington, Conn. But the point that was lost on the writer is that JRC's approach is to bring the public into its newsroom. We want to not only have our writers exposed to the community, we want the community to physically participate in our news process ... much of which happens inside our buildings as we make decisions about what stories to cover, how much visibility those stories are going to receive in our products, and so on. Moreover, we want to collaborate other ways - artistically (let's invite in a local band to perform and live stream it), educationally (sponsor workshops, book groups, demonstrations and lectures), socially and so on. And we want them to write, blog and shoot photos and video alongside us. 

We're constantly pushing our reporters and photographers out the door and giving them tools to spend as much time in the community as possible. But we also believe we have to be in the thick of things locally, to get as much facetime as possible with our readership, to have them know where we are when they want us, and to support local infrastructure. The Record and Saratogian offices have been physically open for more than a century but they have never been as open as they are today. And they will remain that way.