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Newspaper Next, part 2

I spent the past two days holed up in a Marriot conference room going through the Newspaper Next training for folks at the Mercury News and our corporate parent, MediaNews. This is the process that the American Press Institute has developed to help newspapers reinvent their business models.

Before the session started this morning, I had a chance to chat with Steve Gray, the Newspaper Next managing director about some of the work we’re trying to do at Duke. He commented that the public sessions he’s done around the country have attracted very few folks from the world of college journalism, either professors, media advisors, or students. And he said that he found it quite surprising that maybe more campus media aren’t engaging with this.

But that also reminded me a of a post I read this summer by Bryan Murley over at Innovation in College Media. He was commenting on a list of things about the future of college media, and argued that campus media were ignoring the competitive threat from both big papers and social networking sites:

“Nobody is going to weep if college media doesn’t meet this need. Yes. You heard me right. Professional newspapers have been angling for college audiences for years. The entry of Biglicku.com into the social media space just shows that they are still there. The difference with new media is access. Big papers don’t need a readership program, or racks on campus, to steal your readers. And many j-schools don’t care either. They have their own new media training efforts going. They don’t need you.

So what to do about it? I know at the Mercury News, I’ve spent more time talking to the folks on the business side of the paper in the past three months than I had the entire previous eight years I’ve worked here. Currently, The Chronicle’s business and editorial offices are in separate buildings. Maybe part of the solution will simply be proximity, having them close enough in a new building so everyone understands each other’s jobs. But beyond that, how can we develop a building that fosters an innovative and entrepreneurial culture?

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