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Gordon Borrell | Borrell Associates
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Suzanne Schlicht | The World Company
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Mark Poss | Big Fish Works
Robert Brown | Swift Communications
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Clifford Richner | Richner Communication, Inc.
Myra Cortado | Calkins Media
Chris Edwards | The Gazette Company
Christian Hendricks | The McClatchy Company
Eric Johnston | Pioneer News Group
Kevin Kampman | Winston-Salem Journal
Terry Kukle | Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Chris Lee | Deseret Digital Media
Peter Newton | Gatehouse Media
Kerry Oslund | Schurz Communications
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for the long term
Q I want to dig into your company’s restructuring for the long
term but first can you give us a peek into your career path to
A When you’ve been around as long as I have, the answer to
that question can be pretty long. So, I’ll abbreviate. I started
out in radio news and fell in love with media. My first print job was
as an advertising sales person and my first newspaper job in
advertising management. I’ve been at the VP level since my late 20’s
and have been a publisher for over 15 years.
Q And, a quick thumbnail of The Sacramento Bee media
company and its market characteristics?
A The Bee was founded 158 years ago and has been an integral
part of the Sacramento region since. For generations, we’ve
been the leading media covering state politics in California, but we
serve one of the most diverse regions in the country and our
coverage reflects that. We are a digital company with products on
multiple platforms, newsletters and apps. We are a print company
with newspapers in English, Spanish and weekly niche products.
And, we are a commercial printer, printing five newspapers nightly.
Q Your parent company, The McClatchy Company, made
headlines last year for its major steps in accelerating its
transformation into a digital company. What does reinvention look
like in Sacramento?
A Successful reinvention involves looking out at the market,
and offering products and services that meet changing
needs. In news, advertising and audience, we’ve beefed up the
amount of time we spend collecting, analyzing and acting on data.
While it has always been a company goal, we’ve placed an even
greater emphasis on training and education (this year we’ll exceed
5,000 hours of staff training). We continue to focus on better internal
communication, so that employees are aware of the changes and
can assume the role of an unofficial community ambassador.
Another large, and important, change is in the way we share ideas
– and learn from -- other newspapers in the company and many of
our folks talk with their counterparts at other papers on an almost-
Q What are some of the primary goals you had in sight for the
reinvention process that culminated in May of this past year?
A We had four primary goals designed to shape our publishing
around where readers were going. We wanted to emphasize
mobile delivery, to create a modern print edition, to develop new
storytelling techniques and to create a design (in print and online) that
would continue to evolve.
Q And, what are some of the significant operational aspects of
change that have occurred?
A Honestly, the list of things that haven’t changed is a lot shorter!
We’ve changed the organizational structure in news, advertising
and audience and we’ve completely re-done the print production cycle
so virtually every job has changed somehow. But, our biggest changes
have been cultural as we’ve started to see digital as more than a plat-
Day in and day out, we approach things differently. The days of just
taking our print work and expanding it online are long gone; today we
serve both readers and advertisers differently than we did just a few
years ago. With project planning, for example, it’s common for editors
to talk about the planning in the old fashioned way – what is the theme,
how will we write the stores, what are the visuals? But we also explore
how these intersect and how the content will appear on each of the
platforms. Perhaps four days in print with sidebars and graphics and all
at once in a sequential way online with photo galleries and video. When
you start the discussions with that mindset, projects are presented to
readers in a much more attractive way on each channel.
And, after things publish, we measure different metrics than we did
before. We’re also doing a lot more testing in both news and audience.
Not all the tests work (isn’t that the point of testing?) but we’re fine with
that as long as we learn something and don’t keep doing the same thing
over and over again.
Q Print is an important component of what you do in Sacramento
but you are clearly positioning your digital platforms for growth
and changing news consumption habits. Tell us about the differences in
the content that audiences will find in your various channels. And, what is
working well for you in growing your digital audiences?
A For each channel, we dip into the toolbox that serves it best. At
sacbee.com and the apps, readers find breaking news, live
reporting, video news stories and features, photo galleries, interactive
graphics and more. Print continues to contain more traditional cover-
age, from a recap of the breaking news over the last 24 hours to the
puzzles and comics that still work well on paper. We also feature our
deepest reporting and opinion columns prominently in print every day,
in a new section we call “Insight.”
Our digital audience is growing in a lot of areas, but the database
CONTINUED ON PAGE 14
Publisher and President
The Sacramento Bee
In news, advertising and audience, we’ve
beefed up the amount of time we spend
collecting, analyzing and acting on data.
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