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Innovation: The Cedar Rapids Gazette is leading

One of the most important places to watch on the U.S. media landscape is Cedar Rapids, IA. That’s the home of Gazette Communications, which owns the local TV station, The Gazette newspaper, and is online at Gazetteonline.com.

The company has already been getting a lot of attention for some forward thinking steps it has taken online. But now, they’re in the middle of blowing up their organization to re-invent it for the digital age. Steve Buttry, former executive editor, has taken a role as Information Content Conductor at Gazette Communications:

As I have reported before in this blog, Gazette Communications is splitting content creation from the making of products.

Buttry explains further

We have decided that we can best meet the challenges of the future by changing our company completely. We will have an independent organization which I lead focused exclusively on developing content from our professional journalists as well as from the community. We will publish this content digitally without editing and without the limitations of products. Another organization will plan and edit products, such as The Gazette and GazetteOnline, using content from my organization as well as others.

That’s pretty radical stuff. Michele McLellan has a good breakdown on why this is an important change:

Separates content creation from the production of a newspaper or other products. Print and other products can graze this content and remake it for their publications but the journalists do not have to feed a print beast.

On Tuesday, Gazette CEO Chuck Peters spoke at the NAA mediaXchange 2009 in Las Vegas to explain further about the changes. I wasn’t there, but I did flip through his powerpoint and found it a pretty good explainer of how and why the Gazette is evolving, and the underlying trends driving those changes:


3 Responses

  1. Yes. I believe it’s private, family owned company.

  2. Thanks for the post. I haven’t had the time to really go through, but this sounds just right. It’s not about eliminating Print. it’s about delivering the content as appropriate, when a appropriate. Very nice…it’s so interesting to me that this doesn’t come from NYT, or Wapo or LA Times or the Tribune. I bet a nickei that Gazette Communication is a private company that didn’t drink from the funny money.

  3. Chris,thank you for finding and posting this. I followed the click and found what may be the crux of the matter.He said “We were structured for decades as newspaper factories.” Intellect workers at the top and high middle of the pyramid have always had a blind spot for factories.Manufacturing and factories are somehow something that just happens as we all go into the virtual “information” world.It helps explain the knots about “web only”, “Print is dead”, etc.etc.etc. The virtual world is perfect for finding, gathering, storing and selecting the “news.” But Print is the perfect media that allows busy people in the real world at all levels of the pyramid to scan, search and find those stories that inform, educate and amuse. Plus selling local ads to local business in local communities makes money – predictably, even in this deep recession.

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