Thursday, June 12, 2008

Echos and elaboration from Anchorage

The Anchorage Press is an alternative weekly in my hometown that, through much of its incarnation, feels like it existed mainly to bedevil the Anchorage Daily News. (You have to have something to be alternative to, after all, and that probably explains much.)

This week I noticed with some interest an engaging and thoughtful column there by Keista DeGeorge about a subject near to my heart: me.

Well, not me, exactly, but my recent column on news media prospects, punctuated evolution and all that.

I recommend it, Here's a chunk:

Weaver thinks his company’s DNA is changing rapidly enough to keep pace with this new crop of media (and you can’t blame him: for more than a decade he’s been one of the main architects of McClatchy’s strategies in this arena):

“McClatchy's adaptation is well underway,” he writes. “We’re becoming an integrated multimedia company that delivers value-added news and information across many platforms—filling a niche that didn’t exist 10 years ago, but now holds bright promise for companies who can make the necessary adaptations.”

That last sentence is where the red flags start to poke out. When a journalist of Weaver’s caliber lapses into corporate-speak, a little suspicion is in order. What are these “necessary adaptations”? One anonymous commenter, claiming to be a reporter for McClatchy’s Raleigh newspaper the News and Observer, asks whether it means layoffs, and a few sentences later in Weaver’s post comes a line that won’t allay that journalist’s fears much: “The work will grow more sophisticated and staffs, even if smaller, will need to be smarter and more sophisticated, too.”

But downsizing staffs won’t necessarily alter an organization’s DNA. To be fair, Weaver does offer a bit more insight—shedding stock tables, for instance, or adding online databases. But only a bit. The question of how exactly McClatchy plans to alter itself enough to fit whatever niches Weaver and company envision for it remains mostly unanswered by the end of the post.

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