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Interview with the Editor

May 29, 2009

I had the opportunity to interview an editor from a large newspaper here in Chicago. There is no biographical information for this individual because I was asked to keep this persons identity anonymous when posting on this blog. The interview is a pretty interesting first hand confirmation of what we are hearing about newspapers everyday.

Enjoy the transcript below.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing the Newspaper industry?

The continued erosion of the traditional advertising base — classifieds, autos and builders — is hastening the industry’s decline, but the major revenue problem for newspapers was established the moment media started giving away the product for free. Now the expectation is that information should be free. 

 

Where do you think the newspaper industry will be in 5 years?

I hope to see some real challengers arrive to replace all the papers that have and will fail. The newspapers that can offer a unique product to both readers and advertisers will survive. They may look and feel different (or be entirely online), but they will survive.

 

What do you see as opportunities at this time?

The industry is starving for innovators. Anyone with the money and courage to try something new (and is able to model some success) will be embraced as an savior.

 

Does your organization use Social Networking? If so how?

We use Twitter to break stories throughout the day, pose questions and mine for sources. The key to our use of social networking is to drive traffic to the Web site and to foster a sense of community with readers. A number of our newspapers also have Facebook fan accounts. Some reporters/editors use Facebook to post links to their stories. We also have a link from every story to more than a dozen social networking sites encouraging readers to share our work.

 

What are the greatest challenges in using Social Networking at your organization?

Time, evidence that it attracts more readers.

 

Do you find staff eager to adopt new technologies?

Not particularly. Many of them don’t see the value in social networking. Many are doing more now than ever and see social networking as just one more duty.

 

What is the biggest challenge you face in communicating with constituents at this time?

Figuring out when and how to use the technology.

 

Do you see any pitfalls in using these new technologies?

With a smaller staff, I worry about devoting time to something that has little to do with reporting and writing news stories.

 

What effect do you think Social Networking will have on newspapers in the next 5 years?

It will continue to expand reach, but also help in the continuing evolution in the definition of what news media is. The person wealthy enough to own the press is no long necessarily the dominant voice.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    May 29, 2009 3:47 pm

    I feel like this quote, “Many of them don’t see the value in social networking. Many are doing more now than ever and see social networking as just one more duty” could describe many staff members at arts organizations. Because most organizations’ budgets are able to hire a “social media guru” it falls on others who are often reluctant to take it on. If an organization, whether it is a newspaper or an non-profit arts organization, can prove, with hard numbers, that social media creates results, then maybe the staff will feel otherwise. Until then, it is destined to remain “one more duty.”

  2. dialoguefringe permalink*
    May 29, 2009 4:23 pm

    Sarah,
    I think you are exactly right. People do need some hard and fast results see the real value of social media. I also think that organizations all want to be involved with Social Networking, but don’t quite understand the huge amount of time it takes to do correctly. By adding this work on to the backs of existing staff they may create some resentment, but I don’t think organizations have very many other choices. Especially in this time of contracting budgets, where everyone is taking on more work than normal to help keep organizations alive, this becomes a very hard position for an institution. They must engage with these new technologies to keep current, but adding new staff now is in most cases impossible. They must find ways to adopt these practices without alienating staff, or burning them out.

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  1. Newspapers-0, Arts Organizations-1? « The Dialogue Fringe
  2. Newspapers-0, Arts Organizations-1? « The Dialogue Fringe

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