Newspapers’ Digital Apostle

21Nov11


“Change and insecurity, whether real or perceived, are part of most if not all workstyles” (Deuze 233).

If any media industry has seen a lot of changed and faced great insecurity, it is the newspaper industry. In the digital age, newspapers have struggled to find their place. However, a recent article from the New York Times, follows one newspaper executive, John Paton, who is deemed as “newspapers’ digital apostle.”

Paton has been given the reins to run MediaNews, the second largest newspaper-chain in the country and home to papers such as The Denver Post, The Detroit News, and other national publications. MediaNews decided to bring in Paton due to his success since taking over the Journal Register Company in 2009. “Among other feats, he increased digital revenue by over 200 percent in his first full year as chief executive” (article). Paton is known to bring innovation into the newsroom. Issuing Flip cameras to reporters, using free Web-based publishing tools, and creating a lab to foster employee innovation were some of the ways Paton tried to integrate new technologies into the workplace.

Paton acknowledges that there will continue to be great changes in the industry, with the possibility of print newspapers disappearing altogether. “Every time I talk about this, people jump out of windows, so I want to be careful about what I say,” he said. The organizations also recognize the changes in the industry, and having Paton in charge will hopefully help to ease the pain that may come with the transition. The industry has chosen a leader who has adapted to the changing environment and will have a plan for the future. Paton realizes the importance of being prepared for the day when print newspapers cost more money than its worth. He says, “If you don’t have a viable business model to turn it off when that day comes, where does that leave you?” Other leaders in the media could benefit by taking a note from Paton, realizing that “a structural sense of constant change and permanent revolution is the strongest guide or predictor of the human condition in the digital age” (Deuze 234-235). One can’t predict the future, but understanding the liquidity of the nature of media work, in this case the newspaper industry, can better prepare those in the industry for what is to come.

– Sarah D.

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