American John Paton, who has been hailed as the newspaper industry’s digital apostle, has been hitting the headlines again with his forthright views on the future of print in the US.
In his media column in The Observer yesterday, former editor of The Guardian, Peter Preston, reports that in a lecture to Canadian editors, Paton declared: "Crappy newspaper executives are a bigger threat to journalism's future than the internet".
Paton, who, as chief executive, rescued the Journal Register Company from bankruptcy, has also been charged with running MediaNews Group, the second-largest newspaper chain by circulation in the US.
The Journal Register and MediaNews are now in 18 states, with a 800 print and digital products, with revenue of more than $1.4 billion and 10,000 employees.
Writes Preston: “Paton moves into invigorating hymns about participation, digital democracy and open publishing. He wants us to acknowledge that ‘the print model is broken’.
He quotes Paton as pointing out: “Look, as career journalists, we've entered a new era where what we know and what we traditionally do has finally found its value in the marketplace and that value is about zero … 'You're gonna miss us when we're gone' isn't much of a business model.”
Preston explains: “He wants community-building and the dialogue and inter-reaction that can make it lives. He's bored with top-down journalism and gatekeeper antics. He has seen a caring, sharing world and he knows it can work.”
Preston further quotes Paton as saying: "For God's sake, stop listening to newspaper people. We have had since the mid-90s to get this right and clearly we are no good at it.
“Put the digital people in charge, of everything. They can take what we have built and make it better."