Highlights from his video interview with technology industry site paidContent, after he moderated a panel discussion of new publishers in New York:
- In a crowded marketplace, USAT has to find a way to stand out. "We need to add voices. We need to add something unique about our coverage, whether it's the perspective we come from, the context we put a story in, or the person who's telling it to you. Today's media companies and media brands are a compendium of voices. they're not one single voice. In the beginning, USA Today, CNN, the news was the voice. Now, voices have to be a bigger part of it because they have to help you understand the story.''
- He's not interested in cost-cutting the paper to success. He got out of the newspaper business in the 1980s when papers were retrenching during a recession. "It was no fun for me anymore," and a repeat experience "wouldn't be no fun at all."
- Across Gannett as a whole, there's a sense of urgency in transforming the company into a digital enterprise. "They've had a lot of success at Gannett. But there is a hunger to move now, to regain some of the mojo they had when they started USA Today.''
- The paper's big September anniversary is "a moment to really dive into some new things, and be as innovative as we were 30 years ago." He didn't give details. But he said the paper is planning "a lot more" Web verticals -- highly focused, subject-specific sites.
- At 62 years old, he's more interested in leading a business turnaround, because the time required to build a start-up to a full-fledged company can take more than 10 years. "I do, however, think I have the energy to make some changes quickly. With a brand like USA Today, it shortcuts a lot of the time I need. If we do something interesting, people are going to know it."
- His immediate goals include boosting advertising revenue, which continued to slide 14% during the first quarter from a year ago. He wants to show advertisers USAT's new initiatives, get them to see what they have in common. "Advertisers need to learn storytelling on digital platforms, just like we do."