Here's my Internet math: If one year in a dog's life is equal to seven in a human's, then a year on Earth equals 10 on the Internet. By that measure, an alarming 20 years have passed since CEO Craig Dubow in 2006 unveiled Gannett's formal research and development efforts into digital innovation. Even by Dubow's reckoning, the R&D operation's output has been weak.
The Center for Design and Innovation -- known by its nickname, the DIG -- has had two leaders since its formation. Roger Ogden, who also was chief of the company's broadcast division, lasted barely a year before his abrupt (ahem) retirement. The current leader, Vice President Michael Maness, got the job in June 2007.
Dubow, in his annual letter to shareholders, cited just one new product that's come out of the DIG: Nimbus, a weather widget. (Dubow also mentioned as an example of innovation Gannett's moms sites. But I'm pretty sure they were hatched at The Indianapolis Star.) Dubow also referenced Nimbus in an interview with SmartMoney magazine, published today.
In his letter, Dubow told shareholders that the pace of change must quicken: "The word for 2008 in digital: speed." A faster pace better come under Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis, named to that post in January. In comments, Gannett Blog's readers have been deriding the R&D center -- and Nimbus. "If that is the most innovative thing that Gannett has produced, then we not only have a problem at the top, but we have a lot of stupid, uncreative people working in this company,'' one reader wrote on my post, here.
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