10-Point Road Map for API execs

Hey-ho! Check out this tidbit from Editor & Publisher:

The American Press Institute (API) will host an invitation-only, closed-door “summit conference” Nov. 13 in which 50 CEO-level executives will ponder ways to revive the newspaper business. The one-day conference at API’s Reston, Va., headquarters will be “a facilitated discussion of concrete steps the industry can take to reverse its declines in revenue, profit and shareholder value.” Former turnaround CEO James B. Shein will lead the discussion.

Shein’s a professor at Northwestern’s business school. I guess the API’s Newspaper Next project hasn’t solved newspapers’ problems as it was supposed to.

Well, there’s a lot of us around who coulda told them that years ago. So, in case any of the 50 news executives attending the secret conference are interested, here’s Jane Stevens’ 10-Point Webcentric News Organization Roadmap to Success:

  1. Merge news and digital. (Some of you STILL haven’t done that. Unbelieveable.)
  2. Publish to Web first, mobile second, print/TV/radio third. Change or ditch the print version.
  3. Focus most of your resources around core “community” issues and what you still own, and make the community the engine that drives the issues, topics and beats. (Most of you have already jettisoned science, international reporting, entertainment, and unwittingly lost prep sports, college sports and professional sports.)
  4. Integrate your local businesses and services into a searchable community marketplace that links to information and stories. (Check out the Lawrence Journal-World’s Marketplace for inspiration.)
  5. All journalists are multimedia journalists. Minimum requirements for this medium: using a videocamera (or video-equipped cell phone) as a reporter’s notebook, and being able to decide, within available time and resources, what part of a story is told in video, still photos with audio, graphics, text, and/or games. (Quit chasing pieces of the Web. Three years ago, it was podcasting, two years ago, it was blogging. This year, it’s video and useless databases, next year, it’ll be mobile. The Web isn’t any one of those; it’s all of those.)
  6. Coverage moves away from traditional one-off stories to blogging the beat (it’s a continual conversation!!…a format, not content!), creating contextual Web shells chock-full of community aggregation, blogs, group discussions, and links and resources useful to the community, providing iconic contextual multimedia stories, and sending all this content to other platforms and into the Social Network Universe.
  7. Transform the copy desk into a distribution desk, which massages the content for different platforms. (Ditch that ridiculous idea about outsourcing the copy desk to India….the distribution desk is the heart of the organization.)
  8. Distribute decision-making to reporting groups. Build the organization around these reporting groups. They build and maintain their Web shells and participation in beat-specific social networks. They’re nimble! They can adapt and change without IT and editors having six months of meetings.
  9. Establish and integrate social networking into all beats or issue coverage. The community knows more than we do. Make their discussions, aggregations, participation the centerpiece. (All those Moms site….great. But they’re shunted off to one side, a tiny link on the news organization’s self-important home page.)
  10. Try anything and everything. Make lots of mistakes.

Oh, yeah. There’s a No. 11. Ditch Wall Street. Put Web-savvy journalists back in charge. Being beholden to shareholders instead of the communities that journalists serve, and putting MBAs with no journalism background in charge was an odd idea to begin with. Especially for something that’s part of the U.S. Constitution, i.e., by, of and for the people.

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2 Responses

  1. […] Comments Near-crisis for news… on 10-Point Road Map for API…Early Web Journalist… on AboutWendy on Journalists […]

  2. […] Advice to publishers from Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow Jane Ellen Stevens […]

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