Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cautious enthusiasm

Interesting times at the Register. We had several packed "town hall" meetings today with Terry Horne, our new publisher as of September 15. I'm no wiser as to what wheels within wheels went into the decision for Chris Anderson to resign. However, although I try not to be ruled too much by by first impressions, I have to admit my first impression of Terry Horne is favorable. He started as a reporter, and he says he still thinks newspapers need to be independent institutions able to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted -- but they have to be profitable to do so. He assured us that he wasn't coming in with a prefab model, that the only way he knows how to work with a new paper (and he's had executive positions at several) is to make himself available to all employees, ask them key questions, and synthesize what those doing the actual work think and recommend into a plan.

He thinks "Web-first" is the way to go in a general way, but was frank that he didn't know precisely how it will apply at the Register. His main point was that to attract advertisers (back in some cases) we need to give them value for their dollars, and the old model doesn't work anymore, what with Craigslist, various car sites, and every dealership and department store having their own Web sites and all. But he says he thinks that if we're open to changing the model and really serving advertisers and customers, we can stay in business and even grow for a good time to come.

I do know that Chris Anderson sent e-mails to the writers of this L.A. Times story, claiming several inaccuracies, though I don't know which inaccuracies he noted specifically. I suspect they had to do with the anonymous Register sources' comments. Only one of the writers responded, and snottily.

I don't know if OC Post, the "condensed" tabloid version (which I'm not fond of, but then I'm an old-fashioned reader who wants depth and complexity, apparently a rarity these days) has been a failure or not, but Terry Horne said he was favorably impressed with it, so it might not be doomed.

We are in for interesting times.

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