We won’t try to paraphrase the presentation that Journal Register Co. CEO John Paton gave to the INMA Transformation of News Summit last week because Paton stated everything so beautifully. So we’ll just give you a few quotes from the transcript that we highlighted. Paton gets it like no other news executive we’ve encountered.
“You don’t transform from broken. You don’t tinker or tweak. You start again – anew
“Doing more of the same with less results in the same done worse. It is prolonging the death of a broken business model rather than adapting to the realities of the present.
“Just about everything we are doing at JRC – and just about what every newspaper or legacy media company is doing – is focused on getting ON the Web. Very little is being done to position legacy media companies to be OF the Web.
“There is now an even bigger audience for our core product – news – than ever before. And in the crowded marketplace that is the Web, it is the deep trust the audience has for print that is leading us and them online.
“To be in the news business now means you must run your business as digital first. And that means print last. That is how this new world works.
“[The reason the industry isn’t changing faster is] fear, lack of knowledge and an aging managerial cadre that is cynically calculating how much they DON’T have to change before they get across the early retirement goal line. Stop listening to the newspaper people and start listening to the rest of the world.
“We are getting out of anything that does not fall into our core competencies of content creation and the selling of our audience to advertisers. Reduce it or stop it. Outsource it or sell it.
“We bought every reporter – and now some ad salespeople as well –a Flip video cam. They paid for themselves in about a month as we have gone from 100,000 video streams a month to about two million.
“One [JRC] group in Pennsylvania is trying to meet a challenge set by Jay Rosen [called] the ‘100% solution:’ Cover everything that happens on a particular subject in a particular area. Using the crowd, Twitter, smartphones plus Google Docs to manage it all, they are attempting to create real-time game coverage of high school sports. That’s every game in real time.
“Citizen Skip Harrison of Trenton New Jersey has an all-abiding interest in the New Jersey educational system. He is part of the Community Media Lab at our paper The Trentonian. We are training interested citizens to be journalists.
“We have successfully printed pages on a press using only free Web tools. The next time some rep comes to your shop brandishing a $20 million system, tell him the price just went down. Way down. Our capital expenditures have been reduced by half.
“In Torrington, CT at the Register Citizen, our young publisher Matt DeRienzo deputized his entire community to fact check all of his products online and in print…He issued an invitation to every reader, source and community member to hold them accountable and engage in correcting, improving or expanding the story. Matt’s innovative approach…has created an online audience 6.5 time greater than his print audience and he has taken what was a money-losing operation into a profitable one.
“As of Q3, year to date, the Journal Register Company['s financial performance] is handily outpacing the industry as compared to figures provided by the Newspaper Association of America. JRC’s ad performance has been three times better than the industry. More importantly the company’s digital revenue has grown from negligible to 11% of ad revenue in November – in less than a year. With each passing day, that revenue is also less tied to the print buys. More than 60% of digital revenue this month is NOT tied to print sales. Our company which was bankrupt in 2009, is projected to have a profit margin of 15% this year.”
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