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Some new additions in the presentation section

We now have the video and PowerPoints from the Heading in New Directions presentation. You can also check these out on the Presentations and Downloads page.

Alan English, executive editor of the Augusta Chronicle, moderated a discussion with Paul Anger, publisher of the Detroit Free Press, and Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune.

Related blog posts: Coming back from the day that changed Chicago Tribune history
Paul Anger presents The Detroit Plan
Q&A with Gerry Kern and Paul Anger

The Detroit APME Presentation:

And here is the Chicago presentation:



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Photos from first session

Paul Anger, publisher of the Detroit Free Press, and Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune, led a discussion on how newsrooms are dealing with the pressures of the current market.


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Q&A with Gerry Kern and Paul Anger

By Sarah D. Wire

Don’t forget you can watch this live at Ustream.

Key information from the Q&A

Kern: “We’ve got to get more products out there that meet consumer needs in ways we haven’t before.”

Anger: The content has to connect with the community despite the platform, not because of it. “We’re getting better” at the different platforms “but it’s really the information.”

On how he sold the newsroom on making watchdog journalism the main focus.

Kern “People in the newsroom like. It wasn’t a hard sell. It was trying to explain how you look at the world. You’re here to look out for everyone’s interest. The thing they needed to see that I was behind it and I was willing to back them up. Not being afraid to shake some things up and make people mad.

“We then had some successes. It’s then taken off like wildfire.”

On how readers reacted to your aggressive editorial stance which included publishing editorials on the front page?

Kern “Readers loved it. People in Illinois were damn mad and fed up. There was a vacuum of leadership missing and we stepped into it. We felt like we needed to go on a moral high ground. The response was positive.”

“We said we were going to stand up and lead opinion and that’s what we did.”

What tensions did you encounter from inner-city customers as you made changes?

Anger: Freep didn’t see much tension from a particular group. “People that liked the crinkle of the paper with their coffee, that was the common thread.” He said they didn’t see people feeling disenfranchised based on where they live.

Kern: The Trib is focusing on not forgetting the inner-city.

How do you balance being a watchdog and deliver the bread-and-butter kind of news?

Kern: The Tribune is such a large paper that it currently might not be the best place for information on a local council meeting. “For too long we stood on the sidelines and just put the story out there… there was no sense of us being in the game because we had a stake in the community.”

Anger: It amounts to a matter of time. The Free Press publishes a list of ‘decisions to be made that week’ that outlines issues in the individual communities. “You don’t adandon” but you look for what you can do.

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Coming back from the day that changed Chicago Tribune history

By Sarah D. Wire
Dec. 9, 2008 is the day that changed Tribune history. That’s when the Tribune filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“A city without a strong vigilant paper dedicated to its welfare was unthinkable,” Chicago Tribune editor Gerry Kern said. “We will not be intimidated and we will fight. We’re resolute in that.”

Kern said after the company filed for bankruptcy protection, he made sure everyone knew the responsibility of making sure the paper survived was up to the editors “no matter who owns us.”

The economic reality is that the staff had out grown the revenue. He said there could be no good journalism without a business that could support it.

But, Kern said, while the public saw layoffs “inside we were remaking ourselves.”

They set new goals.

The Tribune wanted to be a watchdog, represent the Chicago experience and connect with people on an emotional and intellectual level. The paper wants to help people navigate their daily lives and drive communication.

Kern said the paper wants to be the “guard of Chicago.” They created government and consumer watchdog teams and expanded the editorial board. They began running editorials on the page for the first time in 30 years.

He said “pressure works and you can hold people accountable.”

The paper tries to release a watchdog report every day.

So, what did the paper learn in a year?

They’re in the black, and hope to emerge from chapter 11 in the first half of 2010. They’ve launched a Trib-to-go addition and have launched Chicago Now, a blog network.

“One size does not fit all and the only way to gain mass is through multiple channels,” Kern said.

He said print circulation is down but readership is up. And total audience, both print and online, continues to grow.

“We are here to stay,” Kern said.

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