The 125 Year Old Start Up Paper

The Cedar Rapids Gazette, founded in 1883, is in start up mode.

Steve Buttry, the paper’s former editor, has relinquished that role in favor a more ridiculous sounding title: Information Content Conductor. This is more than merely an overblown title, it’s a sign of the massive newsroom reaorganization that the Gazette plans to undergo over the coming weeks and months.

In an interview with post by Harvard’s Nieman Lab, Buttry explained how the new Gazette will function:

  • “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.”

What this means: The Gazette is no longer a victim of the paper first mindset, which is costly and, frankly, pretty damn behind the times at this point. I’ve done a lovely (read “really terrible”) illustration of how The Gazette’s new school look at content  could most easily be translated to a larger organization. Check it out below:

content-conduction-diagram

Area of information content conduction: Home for all the journalists and the info that they gather. Information is, admittedly, amassed and packaged very differently for the web vs. print. A central info hub does not mean that nobody knows where their story is going (web or print) until they’ve done their interviews and whatnot. That would be terribly inefficient. Rather, journalists will become very, very beat specific, meaning that each journalist will be wildly and specifically knowledgeable about a specific topic. This deep knowledge rather than subject jumping will make it easy for journalists to determine which area their content is most appropriate for.

WEB: The internet, of course. Primary means of content distribution.

PRINT: Is allowed to continue existing, but not in a postition of primary importance.

INFO SERVICE: Newspapers shouldn’t waste all the specialized info they gather. It’s marketable information, particularly once journalists become uber-niche-y. It’ll also lead to hyper-specialized ads, raising the CPM.

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One response to “The 125 Year Old Start Up Paper

  1. Just one correction, as the author of the Nieman post, that was not based on an interview with Buttry, but on blog posts by him and Chuck Peters, and reporting elsewhere.

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