The least publishers can do
The New England Newspaper Association’s spring publishers’ conference was this week in Boston, and I was asked to put together some remarks. (The circumstances were very unfortunate, which I’ll explain at the end of this post)
As promised to the attendees, a PDF version of the presentation is attached here: NENA publishers 3/14/08 A bit of context for everyone else:
Newspaper publishers — and here I mean the individual at the top of the organization — are getting whipped around by a tsunami of information and opinion, often conflicting: from the trade magazines, from people in their own organizations (online, news, advertising, operations, IT), from their peers in the industry.
These publishers are fully consumed with navigating their newspapers through the here-and-now, let alone developing a vision for the near-and-far future.
So my point is that publishers can dedicate a small amount of resources and become much more comfortable and confident in leading their organizations forward. It takes a very a small amount of their own scarce time and a little of their organization’s resources to begin developing the unique vision for their market.
How small is that resource? As you’ll see on the last slide, I literally added it up, and for 2008 it turns out to be 1.2 FTE of existing staff time, 80 hrs of the publisher’s own time, and $16,260 cash.
Seems like a small price for a publisher to pay to reclaim his or her leadership role with confidence.
A note about the circumstances: I had planned to attend this conference mostly to hear John Fish speak. John was publisher at the papers in Topeka, Kans., and Naples, Fla., and in both places had a vision for online that included hiring Rob Curley. And in each case John and Rob made big things happen. I was looking forward to hearing John’s guidance to other publishers on thinking differently. Unfortunately, the day before John was to speak in Boston, he was hospitalized with a condition we all hope is minor and temporary. In pinch-hitting for John, I hope I served him well. Our thoughts and prayers are with John and his family.
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