Last weekend I attended the 47th SABEW (Society of American Business Editors and Writers) annual conference in Phoenix. We arranged for one of our clients to participate on a panel entitled, “The Future of News Delivery.” The conference was held at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University in downtown Phoenix.
Some very interesting/innovative sessions. Arthur H. Sulzberger, Jr., publisher, The New York Times, delivered a keynote entitled, “Reinvention v. Continuity: Keep a Brand Strong During a Period of Transformation.”
Unless you have been hiding in a cave the past few years, you know that the business model for newspapers has been tossed upside down. Many distinguished, century-old papers like The Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and more, have either gone belly up or have been forced to retool, downsize their editorial staffs and go digital. Ad revenues at the vast majority of daily papers in the US have decreased markedly.
Sulzberger, who was introduced by Lawrence Ingrassia, the Times’ business/financial editor, talked about a new monetization that includes some free and some paid news content. A number of journalists in the audience questioned how this will play out but Sulzberger is confident the Times is moving in the right direction. We’ll see.
Other tracks I attended were also quite interesting – “Paid Content on the Web – the Future or False Hope?,” “Beyond the Flak – Developing Great Sources Inside Companies,” and “The Future of Web Search,” all played to packed audiences and the subsequent Q&A discussions were lively, pointed and informative.
Just as impressive was the ASU facility itself – 14 digital newsrooms and computer labs, two TV studios, 280 digital student work stations, the Cronkite Theater, the First Amendment Forum, and more. The faculty includes former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., former CNN anchor Aaron Brown, and digital media guru Dan Gillmor.
An interesting and educational weekend. And a good forum and some positive publicity for our client as well.