APME/APPM 2009

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All the news from the conference in St. Louis

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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