retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times has a column this morning by the always provocative David Carr in which he profiles John Paton, who he describes as “absolutely convinced that if newspapers are to survive, they will all but have to set themselves on fire, eventually forsaking print and becoming digital news operations.”

The irony is that Paton is a newspaper publisher.

Paton is actually a former newspaper reporter who now runs a management company called Digital First, which has been contracted to run two different newspaper chains. According to the story, “Paton has become something of a darling among media thinkers for putting his business where his rhetoric is. He issued Flip cameras to all the reporters at Journal Register papers, helped create a newsroom cafe that’s open to the community in Torrington, Conn., and has been pushing to dump ancient proprietary newsroom software in favor of free, Web-based publishing tools. He has financed a lab to foster employee innovation, and the company has formed partnerships with a number of Web companies to provide news and information.”

At the core of Paton’s moves is a central conviction, Carr writes - “that print is, if not exactly dead, dying a lot faster than anyone thought.”

You can read the full story here.

It is worth reading for the following reason: Sometimes you have to be willing to challenge virtually every single assumption that goes into your business. Every one. And if you can’t do it yourself, you have to ask someone else to do it. Because newspapers are just one example of an industry where there is no such thing as a sacred cow, and everybody has to be willing to ask the uncomfortable and even unpopular questions.

Everybody has to be willing to approach the world with Eyes Open.
KC's View: