Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper publisher with 110 titles, is rolling out “information center” guidelines that it calls “the newsroom of the future.” In its essence, the Information Center downplays hard news in favor of more community touch points. It also de-emphasizes the newspaper industry's traditional focus on print in favor of a 24/7 multi-platform orientation.
In an employee memo, covered by Jim Romenesko, CEO Craig Dubow notes that “news and information will be delivered to the right media be it newspapers, online, mobile, video or ones not yet invented at the right time. Our customers will decide which they prefer.”
Dubow adds that early tests indicate the combination of a community orientation and media flexibility draws more people to both the newspaper Web site and to print. “Asking the community for help gets it and delivers the newspaper into the heart of community conversations once again,” he says. The bottom line is that more people, in a community context, will “attract the customers advertisers want. … Simply, appealing to more and different readers helps bring us more and different advertisers.”
One would think that digging deep into the community is something that newspapers intuitively do. But actually, they don't. Low budgets, unfocused editing and a desire to avoid controversy sometimes leave many communities feeling alienated from their newspapers on both the reader and advertiser levels.