Digital First, Print Last: Journal Register’s John Paton

“To be in the News business now means you must run your business as Digital First.  And that means Print Last. Print Last because that is how this new world works. Print is a slow medium and digital is fast. Atoms will never beat bits….

“Digital First strategy is centered on the cost effective creation of content and sales and not the legacy modes of production…. Community media labs in each of our 18 dailies have helped turn our audience, who became our competitors, into our colleagues. And the communities we serve are the better for that….

“As CEO, I blog to my employees and the public. I ask for their help and they oblige. I also regularly email my 3,106 employees and they me. And the most common complaint is – lack of communication. You just have to keep working at it knowing that it, like the website or the newspaper, is a job that is never done….

“We actually pay some of to experiment. We call it our ideaLab. The ideaLab is a select employee group – we asked them to apply online via my blog (and they did in the hundreds) – who are paid to experiment. We supply them the tools (Droids, Smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Netbooks, etc); the time (25% off with pay) plus some extra pay as an incentive. There are no rules….

“Jeff Jarvis – now a member of Journal Register Company’s Advisory Board — said it best: ‘Do what you do best and link to rest.’…

Across all of our 18 dailies, we assigned, reported, edited, produced Web & print products using only free Web-based tools … We have built sales support systems using an iPhone and free Google tools. We have successfully printed pages on a press using only free web tools. The next time some rep comes to your shop brandishing a $20M system – tell the price just went down. Way down….

“In Torrington, CT at our daily, the Register Citizen, our young publisher there, Matt DeRienzo deputized his entire community to fact check all of his products online and in print. By putting a Fact Check box online he issued an invitation to every reader, source and community member to hold them accountable and engage in correcting, improving or expanding the story.”

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