Sunday, January 29, 2012

PoJo among first to detail new digital-first push

In a story today, the Poughkeepsie Journal is one of the first Gannett newspapers to offer details of the new digital-first initiative set to be unveiled company-wide to staffers on Thursday. The New York paper, like other GCI dailies, will start offering tablet and smartphone applications as it erects a paywall and pushes for more news delivery via social media.

"Here’s how the news will couple with the technology," writes Digital Editor Irwin Goldberg. "Say a major accident closes the Mid-Hudson Bridge at 4:30 p.m. We’ll tweet a quick news bulletin on our @PokJournal Twitter account, post it on our Facebook page and send a text alert to those who have signed up to receive them. That will be followed by more updates as a story is developed. You’ll be able to read it all on your smartphone, tablet or desktop/laptop computer."

Meanwhile, he says, "a photographer/videographer will post photos and video from the scene; that will help you gauge traffic conditions and provide other need-to-know information. Once the scene is cleared, the story will be updated and a text alert sent. In the following day’s print edition, you’ll likely read a story that’s more analytical, with fresh information as appropriate."

In a column, also published today, Publisher Barry Rothfeld quotes readers and advertisers who say: "It’s about time such changes are happening."

Has your site reported on the digital-first initiative? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.


  1. To me, it's unclear how the sequence of news-delivery events outlined by Goldberg is new. That is, haven't Gannett newspapers been doing this for quite a while now?

    Rothfeld, meanwhile, also says the paper will be adding additional staffers. But he doesn't say how many, nor whether they will represent a net increase.

    Finally, I admire his candor (assuming it wasn't inadvertent) in acknowledging that readers had grown impatient over the slow pace of technology change at the paper.

  2. Rothfeld, by the way, is a good guy.

    What he describes is how it is supposed to work; the real-time video and conditions part is hard to pull off, though.

  3. Fort Myers regularly posts stories about morning traffic tie-ups and leaves them up through the afternoon as if the condition still exists...

  4. We can't get a phone app. We're told some time this year. Everybody else in our news market has an app. Gannett once again blazing trails.

  5. Rothfeld came up the ranks through news. Jim, how many publishers came from news?

  6. from rothfeld column: "More staffers to complement the already talented group of reporters and editors we have."
    Will that include more copy editors to handle expanded sections in print and on web?

  7. My experience is that Rothfeld is not a nice guy, but is smarter than most editors or publishers in Gannett. He has sharp elbows, is sarcastic in meetings, awkward in one-to-one discussions and has zero empathy for a beleaguered, decimated staff that lives well below his very comfortable standard of living. He got to where he is by being a company man and will mow down anyone without remorse. That said, there are times when he offers good guidance on news coverage. Certainly more on the ball than the executive editor.

    1. That hasn't been my experience. Barry has always been a stand up guy with me.

  8. Nothing new here unless you count tweets instead of text alerts. My site already is doing this for breaking news and high-interest developing stories (such as a sensational criminal trial). The constant flow of information depends on staff being available to do it, and that's a challenge at my site.

  9. Jim,
    I attended a local Wilmington fundraiser, the Hagley Museum Golden Pheasant Dinner, last night and I saw Chris Saridakis and his lovely wife.

    I asked Saridakis about his thoughts on Gannett, The News Journal and what PoJo (and other USCP properties) are attempting to do and he first broke out in laughter and then commented "Gannett is dying more rapidly than anyone ever predicted. The executives and the Board, lack vision, strategy and direction."

    Then a very high profile Wilmingtonian asked Saridakis, in front of a dozen people, about the News Journal's plans to put up a pay wall to encourage the community to pay for online content and he proceeded to say that "pay walls in front of community newspapers will be the death knell for Gannett. They never researched what their consumers want, how would they know what to charge? Gannett's arrogance often gets in the way of delivering a reasonable and valuable product."

    Finally, I told him that I would post this conversation on the Gannett Blog and Saridakis responded "Jim performs a great service for under-appreciated employees...tell him I said hello".

    Now, I was never a huge fan of his when he was at Gannett, but I have now bumped into him several times and have seen him in action within the Wilmington community and he is a very upstanding person. He is not afraid to speak his mind and it is refreshing to see someone who has never been afraid to standup to the current Gannett leadership. I now wish he was running this company. We need more leaders like him at Gannett.

  10. 9:29 - Wow, that really is an amazing bit of information. Just confirms what all we peons think of Gannett's digital plans ... thank you!

  11. If you think Saridakis is stupid or full of crap, check out the palace he built in Delaware:

    Gannett didn't pay for this; he jumped ship as soon as he saw the water around his ankles. He knows of what he speaks.

  12. Please tell me how the Digital First part of our new strategy differs from the tenets we put forward in 2006 in the launch of the Information Center model, which was enhanced a few months later with Info Center 2.0 and the New Media Spectrum? OK, Twitter and Facebook weren't around back then, so there's that. OK, we don't have the corporate mandate to learn and use Avid for our video production (we never did, even on launch, opting for Final Cut Pro from the get-go). OK, we're getting iPads and iPhones (remember the camera kits we all got in 2006?), but what's going to happen in two years when they start to break and we local sites can't afford to replace them (again, like the camera kits).

    I want to believe. I really do. But all I see and all I hear is a repackaging of more of the same, masking yet another set of staff reductions that will be coming after a round of early retirements and will precede yet another newsprint reduction (you have heard that newsprint prices are going up again, right?).

    Oh, and "Passion Topics" are Real Life, Real News, Redux but without Moments of Life and with this faustian bargain of being given a pass to stop doing some stories in order to focus on other stories (but, as the old knight said in Indiana Jones III, "Choose wisely").

    Check please?

  13. According to several Wilmingtonians, they place his net worth at over $400 million. I am certain Gannett did not contribute much to his wealth. Heck, I was told his eBay contract is worth over $50 million!

    Btw, he serves on the board of trustees at Tower Hill School and his wife is actively involved in several local non-profit boards. They are extremely philanthropic.

    I have had the pleasure of interacting with him on several occasions and as 9:29p posted, he is an upstanding citizen and a very humble person.

    Wish he was still at Gannett too!

  14. I wonder how much of Goldberg's story came from suggested corporate boilerplate? I'd be interested to see how other papers alert readers to this proposed flow of information as their paywall rollouts loom.

  15. Reading the very interesting anecdote about 9:29's conversation with Saridakis, plus 10:11's recap of previous initiatives, it's hard to conclude that Gannett's board and executives are doing much other than milking cash out of a dying business to line their own pockets.

    I know, I know -- people have said that on this blog before. But it just keeps seeming more and more plausible to me.

  16. I remember Barry's first day at The Port Chester Daily Item - he is a good guy!

  17. My memory of Rothfield was that whenever there was a furlough or a layoff, he'd hold a meeting.

    And when the employees would ask him questions, he'd have this lost look in his face and say he didn't know why Poughkeepsie had to have furloughs and layoffs because they were making plenty of money. And he wouldn't have any answers from desperate employees' questions as to what to expect from the future. He tried to be empathetic, but if fell way flat.

    Meaning, either Gannett kept him totally out of the loop for his own property, or he knew, and just decided to lie.

  18. The "additional staffing" at Florida Today for the new digital iniative consists of a new college grad who will handle Twitter and Facebook postings, and assist with posting sports news. Translation -- pay next to nothing, work 'em 'til they drop and tell them this is a bold career move to gain valuable experience.

  19. Yup, 2:59. As Jim highlighted recently, PoJo had an opening for a overnight staffer. Pays peanuts. No training. Just great.

  20. Hey, posting news by everyone platform you've got is a great thing for readers. But, journalism aside, it won't generate print ad dollars, still the highest price real estate. Will it generate digital ad dollars?

  21. Still wonder who will supervise that overnight reporter? Did they hire anyone yet?

  22. How does someone get to be a Digital Editor when he spent a decade-plus making snide remarks about the Internet and refusing to learn anything about it? Oh, right, this is Gannett.

  23. 1:12, I don't know about the snide Internet remarks as you put it, but he became Digital Editor during the beginning of the Information Center hoopla, in which everyone was supposed to be split up into seven different "desks".

    This lasted about two meetings with the newsroom, and only two desks were every actually formed, because reality hit that a paper still had to be put out every single day. Another brilliant Gannett idea that lasted just a couple of months.

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. I knew you would delete my post....It's NOT opinion, it IS THE TRUTH....!!! This blog has turned into nothing but a kiss ass for dying GANNETT and I cant wait unitl they get flushed. I know rothfeld better than YOU do. His time will come one way or another, then you will be talking about his cooruption on this piece if shit blog


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