John Paton: We’re doing something about digital transformation

“Without proactive change there is no future for newspaper companies in a Digital age.”

That’s how MediaNews Group, Journal Register and Digital First Media CEO John Paton (right) begins his memo

John Paton

announcing “operational changes, initiatives and management appointments that will put the right leaders in the right structure to effectively implement our Digital First strategy.” He also says the company is extending Journal Register Company’s ideaLab to include MediaNews Group employees.

To start, we are going to equip 25 MediaNews Group employees with the latest tools and give them the time and money to experiment with them. Each member of the ideaLab will be equipped, initially, with a Smartphone, tablet and laptop.

The Company will carve out 10 hours a week from their regular jobs to allow them time to experiment with these tools and report back on how we can change our business for the better. And we will add an extra $500 per month to their pay. Other than that – there are no rules.

How do you become a member of the ideaLab?

In about 200 words or less, what would you do with the tools and time to improve our business? Email me at jpaton@digitalfirstmedia.com or post on my blog.

The full memo is after the jump.

New Bosses, New Structure and What You Can Do

Thursday, December 1st 2011

Folks,

Without proactive change there is no future for newspaper companies in a Digital age.

At MediaNews Group and Journal Register Company we understand that and are shifting our rate of change into high gear. About a month ago we announced the leadership of the newly formed Digital First Media to run both companies.

Since then, company President Jeff Bairstow and I have been working with key management and today we are announcing a number of operational changes, initiatives and management appointments that will put the right leaders in the right structure to effectively implement our Digital First strategy.

Our strategy is simple –allocate the right resources to drive Digital audiences and monetization while effectively reducing our old legacy infrastructure costs. In other words, grow Digital products, platforms, content offerings and revenue –and grow them fast. And, at the same time, protect our print business.

In the newspaper industry Digital transformation is a bit like the weather – everybody’s talking about it but few are doing much about it at all. That won’t be the case at MediaNews Group and Journal Register Company.

We are putting into place a new structure that centralizes non-local content production, digital product and sales development, sales support and IT to provide solutions back to the Company’s local markets.

The new structure will allow local markets to focus on what they do best – the creation of local content, the growth of local audience and engagement and the monetization of that growth. It will speed up our time in launching new and needed digital products, reduce costs and let us maximize the scale of Digital First Media’s resources and market footprint.

Moving forward, under Digital First Media, the new operational structure for Media News Group and Journal Register Company includes:

All editors on ALL platforms will report to Jim Brady, Editor-in-Chief of Digital First Media. Dave Butler, as previously announced, will be Executive Editor and will also continue to oversee all California newsgathering operations as our West Editor. Greg Moore of The Denver Post will also serve as our Central Editor and oversee Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Minnesota. The East Editor, who will oversee Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New England newsrooms, will be named at a future date. As before, editors will maintain their reporting relationship to their respective publishers.

All sales leaders on ALL platforms will report to Kirk MacDonald, Executive Vice President of Sales for Digital First Media. Adam Burnham, as Senior Vice President for Local Digital Sales, will be responsible for all local digital revenue in all markets. Chris Coda is named Senior Director of National Digital Sales and will be responsible for leading all digital national advertising sales across Digital First Media. Mike Petrak is named Vice President of National Print Sales and will lead all national print advertising.

As well, a number of Regional Vice Presidents for sales have been named, each with a solid track record in driving digital revenue. Pete Casillas will be responsible for California while Erik Smelser is responsible for the Northeast including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. Kevin Haezebroeck and Ed Condra, who, respectively, already have responsibility for our properties in Michigan and Ohio plus Pennsylvania will take on sales responsibilities as well in this structure. Kirk will also do double duty and directly watch over sales in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Minnesota.

As before, sales leaders will maintain their reporting relationship to their respective publishers.

The Company’s Digital strategy, including ALL product deployment, will be led by Arturo Duran, Chief Digital Officer of Digital First Media. Alison Kane is the new Senior Vice President of Digital Products and Business Development and will be responsible for bringing all new Digital products to market and implementing Digital First Media’s business development strategy. Scott Cunningham is appointed Vice President for Digital Technology and Platforms and will be responsible for all Digital publishing platforms. Patricia Rodeawald is the new Vice President of Digital Product Development responsible for coordinating all centralized Digital product launches.

As previously announced, Chief Technology Officer Bob Mason is responsible for all of the Company’s system selections, deployments and I.T. infrastructure. Steve Rossi, Executive Vice President of Digital First Media, will oversee all California operations including Bay Area Newspaper Group and Los Angeles Area Newspaper Group. Jerry Grilly, Executive Vice President of Digital First Media, will oversee all Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Minnesota operations. Tom Wiley, Executive Vice President of Digital First Media, is in charge of MediaNews Group’s New England properties including Media One and NENI. And all Human Resources functions will be centrally led by Robert Monteleone, Chief Human Resources Officer for Digital First Media.

If you are unclear about how any of these changes affect you just ask your supervisor.

What Can You Do?
Ok, so those are the new bosses but this Company isn’t going to change without you. We need everyone’s help in accelerating our Company from its print past to its multiplatform future.

To that end, Digital First Media is extending Journal Register Company’s ideaLab to include MediaNews Group employees.

To start, we are going to equip 25 MediaNews Group employees with the latest tools and give them the time and money to experiment with them. Each member of the ideaLab will be equipped, initially, with a Smartphone, tablet and laptop.

The Company will carve out 10 hours a week from their regular jobs to allow them time to experiment with these tools and report back on how we can change our business for the better. And we will add an extra $500 per month to their pay. Other than that –there are no rules.

How do you become a member of the ideaLab?

In about 200 words or less, what would you do with the tools and time to improve our business? Email me at jpaton@digitalfirstmedia.com or post on my blog. Any MediaNews Group employee in any division or any department –part-time or full-time –is eligible. I will involve Digital First Media’s Advisory Board in the selection of the 25 staffers and make sure we let you know the names of the winners.

Okay, now it’s over to you.

Until next time, John.

Comments

comments

1 comment
  1. So glad that you’re continuing your digital revolution. I wrote about this in my blog back when you discussed how the Idea Lab saved your company. I’m looking forward to future updates. Congrats!