The Last Stand of Local News

The Last Stand of Local News

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So, welcome. This. Is our fourth, count'em, 4, session. Of journalism, underseas, truth, and trust in a time of turmoil. I'm, dawn Garcia director of ajahn s night journalism, fellowships, program here at Stanford and co-host. Of this course with Michael Bolden who. Is the managing director, for. Communications, at the, JSK fellowships. The. Speaker this. Speaker series is a, collaboration. With the, continuing. Studies program here at Stanford and the John s Knight journalism, fellowships, at Stanford. Each. Of the five nights is devoted, to issues. That are important, to our program, the Jonas Knight fellowships, and to, journalism. Tonight's. Class is focused, on the state of local news, we. Think that's one of the most important, sectors in the media that's, supporting, democracy. Here. Are some questions that, we, hope to answer tonight. Why. Is there an accelerated. Decline, in, the, number and strength of local news organizations around, the United States, what. Does this mean for our local communities. Where. Are there signs of hope. Will. Local news startups, fill the void and, what. Does this mean for the state of our democracy. Failing. Business models, and changing, reader habits, have, decimated, local, news organizations, in many communities. Legacy. News organizations. Are still trying to adapt to a changing media. Landscape and, new business, models are emerging to try to fill those gaps, tonight. We've invited journalists. And media experts, who are going to provide a variety of unique, perspectives, on this topic. The. First part of the evening will be a conversation, about local, legacy, news media, with, Ken dr. a news industry analyst, Neil Chase executive. Editor of the San Jose Mercury News Barry. A news group and Fernando, Diaz managing. Editor for digital of the San Francisco Chronicle. They. Will talk both about some trends and local news as well as what's happening on. At two major news organizations, right, here in the Bay Area. We'll. Take a short break after, the first session, our. Second panel tonight will focus on some innovative models, in local, journalism our guests, for, that panel, will be sue Kraus CEO, of the Institute of non profit news Chris, Horne, a 20-19. JSK, fellow and founder, and publisher of a devil strip in Akron. Ohio. Shaquanda. Johnson founder and publisher of Flynt beat in Flint, Michigan and, clay Lambert, editor of the Half Moon Bay review, here in the Bay Area as. We, do every evening we, invite you to write your questions on index. Cards and pass them to the, left of the auditorium, to the talented, and lovely Erika Bartholomew, raise your hand Erika is she is she'll.

Collect Them for you throughout the evening and we'll try to get to as many questions as we can at the end of each session. Friendly. Last reminder, that the full syllabus, for this course is on canvas. And the. Course website along, with biographical. Information for, all of the speakers we've posted, books and articles, and such for you there and we've, been doing that all along throughout, the course and there are now a few audio recordings, up there of our. Classes. I'll. Just quickly introduce just, a bit more our three panelists, that are on stage right now and then let's get to it. To. My immediate left is Neil chase he's the executive editor at the Bay Area News Group and the San Jose Mercury News a veteran. Journalist, and marketer with deep experience in print and digital he got to start at the San Francisco Examiner and, that. Then he was at a Russian American, newspapers startup and. He was it as did a stint as professor. At Northwestern University's. Medill School the journalism, in a number of other places the New York Times included, and he's, worked as a consultant, to media and business properties, seeking to invigorate their content, offerings, in a digital age, he's. A graduate of the University of Michigan where he now chairs the school's board for student publications. And we were just sharing our love of student publications, a minute, ago. To. Tanios. Left is Ken dr. he's a media analyst, speaker and consultant his, work centers on the transformation. Of consumer. Media in the digital age from the New York Times to Netflix, from Comcast, to Conde Nast. He's. A veteran, of the digital media industry. Combines, deep, experience, as an executive in, strategy, revenue, models and journalism, and. He's had experience including, 21 years at Knight Ridder where I used to work years ago and, his. Time. Also licensing. Corporate. Development, business development, and syndication, he writes a, great, column which in the robust read his. Major non-work commitment, is to education. And improving life in Santa Cruz County where he lives. He's. Past, president of the UC Santa Cruz foundation, and he's a graduate of us. UCSC. And a volunteer, for many years, for. That University, and. On. The far left not not, least is Fernando, Diaz who's the managing, editor for digital of the San Francisco Chronicle before. Joining the Chronicle, he was a senior editor for reveal, at the Center for Investigative Reporting, and. Before. That managing. Editor of a in Chicago, and, also. The, Chicago Tribune he. Was earlier. Before that he worked at Chicago, now as their community, manager, and a bilingual. Investigative. Reporter at the Chicago Reporter and, also, local reporter, at the Daily Herald, Herald. And Democrat and chronicle so, he's got a lot of local news creds he's, a graduate of Columbia College, Chicago and, he's a Maryland, native and now lives in the Bay Area so without, further ado we're gonna hear about legacy. Local, news take. It away thank. You so.

We're Gonna start with a quiz, I feel like I could ask the quiz this looks like a LexA, right here I could ask the LexA question. I don't, know what we would get so. We. Had one gentleman over here you want to hold up your newspaper there, we, were watching who, we had who. Was reading what everybody's, on an electronic, and you've, got the Stanford daily, it. Should be a door prize is there a door prize. So. Let's try let's try a little audience participation start. Out with how, am i oh and. Number two okay. Anybody, else well three, four. It's. Very good five six. This. Is very good this is a good warm at seven wait it was out of newspaper Oh The. New Yorker that looks good enough close enough yeah that's good enough. Also. Doing very well in digital, subscription, how. Many of you just raise your hands how many of you subscribe. To the, New York Times. Okay. How many of the Washington, Post. How. Many both. That's. Good now. How many of you have. Either. The New York Times or, Washington Post. App on, your. Phone. Okay. Now, we'll go local, for a moment here how, many of you subscribe, to The Chronicle. Yeah. Yeah that's a good question that's a great question like there's, 14 versions right is it. Okay. Cry Chronicle again one more time a lot, of people okay you. I do. The company pays for thorry no well, I live in San Francisco that's, right. The. Mercury News. Okay. So. If all of America, looked like this we would have no problems. It's. Pretty amazing. How. Many of you have, the. Chronicle. App or, icon, on, your phone. Ok. It. Gets good. How. Many you have a Mercury News icon, or app. Ok. Now that's a number ok, not. Bad that. So. When I start by talking a little about. Which. The Kindle the Kindle version oh the Kindle version we could do in Tindall we could do a addition, ok, Kindle. Version, of The, Chronicle. Channel, version of the Mercury News. Nope. Ee edition it might read the e edition. Of these papers. So. Our numbers tell us about 25 percent of people who get the newspaper in print also. Read the e Edition it looks like about a quarter of the people in the rooms that's pretty. Representative and that means they actually, spent you know how much time they spend or that means they open it up so people who go to the e Edition, look. At a lot of pages often, it's done on an, iPad or a, tablet or. Sometimes. On the phone but a lot of tablet users it's, so easy to flip through the pages we count pageviews online or the number of pages somebody sees and. It's one thing to go to your computer and look at a page then, click and go to another page but, on the on the e Edition you can just flip through the pages the same thing with the app and so, the page view numbers are off the charts but they're not really. Comparable. Yep. The. Addition. Which. Is one of the things that I wanted. To improve when I got there a year and half ago and we do every, day make sure that. All of the articles get to the Kindle edition just.

For You just for you. Because. It baguettes a question, in conversation, later about platforms, yeah and just how many places. We absolutely need, to be at. All times but, our Edition, is among the most engaged. Products. We produce, and. The the, push and the pull now is that we. Already have those customers, and. So the question becomes will do we can for new customers, into e-edition customers, or to be convert them into website, customers, or do we get them into the newsletters, and there's, a lot of friction around whether you want more edition, customers. Or you want to migrate those, folks into the, website of a featured experience, but you said something that we're just gonna run this conversation, you can just sit there that's fine he. Said something about when you got there you want to make the addition better yeah the addition has such potential, because, it's, an unlimited number of pages if, you get the Sacramento, Bee I want to ask how many Sacramento, Bee subscribers, there are if, you've got the Sacramento, Bee and you get their addition along, with it you get a 50 page supplement, every day that. Has all, kinds of other stuff that wouldn't fit in the paper full. Business. Stock. Tables, full sports scores all. The kind of stuff because they can do it company-wide the McClatchy company across the country it's one of those things where it's not that hard to do and the e editions a wonderful place to do it because people like. To engage. Deeply the other the other thing and again. The. Other thing is that the Edition. Still. Is. The tangible, representation, of, the editors, decisions. On news and they, are not driven by what. Clicks on the page right so you, know most, of my favorite stories are on a 3, B. 4 you, know and I think that a lot of readers will find that there are the stories that didn't have the necessary art, or, they weren't newsy, enough for a cover but, they're still important enough to include in that in in the paper so, you don't like your editors choices for. Yeah. I want to step back for a moment talk about reader revenue, a little and how. Important, all your subscriptions are so, if you look at reader revenue, if you go back to 2010. There, were some people in, a place called Silicon, Valley that, said that, the internet wants to be free remember that and that, all news would always be free on the internet because, that's the way God wanted, it to be. 2011. The New York Times started planning and what they called what. The industry has mistakenly, called a paywall. Meaning. A subscription, and, in 2011. Later. It was launched. Since, then about 65%. Of. Daily newspapers, in the United States have pay walls and. So. They're saying basically that. Interim. Between, when basically, 95. 96, 98, and the. 2012/2013, kind. Of forget about that we kind of made a mistake by giving away all this content, for free and have, said to all of you what. Counts is the content. Not. The means of delivery, and a. Lot of people have accepted, that now you, can see from the hands in the audience exactly. The nature of the problem the farm a farm more people here. Taking. The Times or The Post than, taking, the local paper and this, is the problem across the United States if. You look at the numbers New York Times in particular, which I've written a lot about now. Has about, 3.8. Million. Subscribers. Between. Print, and digital more. Digital, than print now at the, height of print. It. Was less than half of that so. What they've done is they've used, all of what has changed to, their advantage it's, still not a thriving, business but, it is a business that is transitioning. And making. It. Similar. Washington, Post Wall Street Journal Financial. Times these. National, Global papers on the other hand throughout the, country, and the same thing is true in Europe and. Basically the Western world local. Papers have a hard time selling. Digital. Subscriptions. They, have their print subscriptions, they're declining as all print subscriptions, are even, at the post, and the times so. This is a core problem and the the economics, of it is important. For everybody here, who, is interested in this to know. The. New York Times now gets 2/3 of its revenue from its readers you. Think of the importance, of this and especially in, the times we live in politically. And this, is the direct, connection, between the. Journalists. And their. Readers it's. Not advertisers. As journalists, and readers two-thirds, most. Daily, newspapers, about. Still, maybe somewhere, between 30 and 40 percent is his. Circulation. The rest is still advertising. We, all grew out of a world where. All these newspapers, when they were thriving. Depended.

On Advertising, for 80% of the revenue so. That whole world is flipped the National people have made a transition and. The, local, people are still trying to figure it out so I want to go to that question, with, both of you and talk about what. You're doing, in digital, subscription, consequently. With that kind of framework of, what, are you doing and how much is just how much is changing how quickly it's. Changing, incredibly. Quickly, and, describe your parent company hers no I I work for the Chronicle and we, are owned by the Hearst Corporation which. Owns everything from branches. To, health. Information companies. To the books that your, mechanic. Uses, to estimate, how, much it's going to cost a change of ball-joint so. They're a hyper, diversified. Private. Corporation. And newspapers, are just one portion, of it I, would, say also that we, are behind the magazine, division, of the magazine, division of Hearst is massive, and. They are far advanced, in the subscription game, they are far advanced, in the digital game, in. The. Advertorial. Sort. Of the sponsored. Links game, where, they'll do links. To products, where they do reviews, they're, not affiliated, but, if you buy a, lipstick. Or a. Garden. Hose and they, get. A portion, of that revenue so, what we're doing is we're desperately trying to catch up because, on, some level there. Is a limit. To the number of people that we could theoretically consider. Converting into paying, digital. Customers, and. Forever. Limit, because, geographically. You have a much smaller base, than say the New York Times that's right and even. Even though, on. Any, given day we, get a substantial amount, of traffic what I call the hate weeds The, Drudge you know audience, the, far-right audience, that just loves to hate this. Entire state but. Specifically, our publication, for. Many things we publish day in and day out mostly, because the name is francisco yeah nancy pelosi's hometown right oh that's. Dog condos so that's that's, traffic. I think, in a classic sense that five. Years ago we. Would have been counting and saying we need to drive those pageviews, we need to get those impressions up and we, would have been counting drudge traffic. As a good, thing because it means that there's there's audience, for that we've. Evolved. Into understanding, that it's very unlikely that we're going to convert a Drudge reader into, a paying subscriber. And so. We, need to pivot our editorial. Strategy, to, focus more on the needs and the interests, of what, Bay. Area what, California, readers. Primarily. Are interested in because. Our data shows that you. Are much more likely, to become a paying subscriber, if you're geographically. Proximate to, us let, me stop you there for a minute and go and. Then pick it up so. What Fernando is describing, is is what's, happened throughout the industry when he says five years ago you're looking for pageviews, meaning. You want you want remember all these slide shows that you saw when you got on your phone and all this kind of stuff you want they. Wanted you to consume as many pages as possible, so they can put in many ads in front of you Google. And Facebook have, won the digital ad war the. The, value, of all those pageviews, has declined, and and. As, that's happened, what's, what what Fernando's talking about in terms of the importance, of the readers and, look at this in terms of so. Now it's, important, to really, serve, well, a smaller. Number, of real, readers. Who, care about the news and if you can get them to pay for it you've, got a lifeline, for the future right and so that's what that's that's the larger, mechanics, that's going on really all over the Western world now describe, a little about Hearst.

We Talked about this in terms of the. Databases, what kind of information do you know about the people who are your readers here for instance and how to databases, yeah, repositories, work so if you're and, this is it can be a little scary depending. On how much you don't know about what's, being tracked but. Literally we know what device you're on what. Time of day come to the site what stories you read, how. Long you were on those stories whether you shared them. How. Far you scrolled, on those stories would browser you're using, to. Some degree what. Self. Service, provider, you have we. Know general. Geographic information based, on your IP address, and, depending. On we've. Moved from what. Was the industry standard Omniture, analytics. Platform, into, Google Analytics, which, offers us now, demographic. Information that. Is gathered, based. On all of the cookies, that, are put into your browser by all of the sites that you actually are on in addition to news so. We now know that if you're into sports or you're into food or you're into videos. We. Don't necessarily know. That, it's bob smith who lives it one two three four main, street in. Half, Moon Bay but, we know that there's a user of, this, sort of like a. Cohort. That will like that yes absolutely and, so that's, what. Ken. Was describing we will then use that information to say okay if they're, in this geographic area and they come to our website about, three, times a week and we've, got them on email, can. We convert them into a print subscriber or into a print or a digital ideally, a digital subscriber, because we don't have the added cost of distributing the newspaper. Then. That's what. We're looking for we are looking through all of our data to identify the convertibles. The, people that will that. Are that can be compelled, into supporting, our ability, to do journalism and that changes, the marketing, offer so, you may all get different offers, based on the informations, right that's in that database, both. Up and probably the price could change. You. May be offered, newsletters. How many of you Reese we receive, an email newsletter from, a newspaper. Or magazine every. Day. So. These. These have turned out to be the major way that publishers, are now reaching. Directly. Not just through Google and Facebook readers. You're, signaling that intent the newsletters, are free that information, goes in the database, Chronicle. For instance does a really good. Job in a smart job around food food. And dining and wine and that, is one, significant. Part of it let, me turn to Neal and and in so. I know you've started your, own unit, in, terms of digital subscriptions. And. Using. A knight fellow I believe, explain. What you're doing and why yes, so as.

Fernando Explained, he's part of the Hearst Corporation and, you've, all seen hearst castle and, remember that the movies and the her I worked at the San Francisco Examiner in the 80s where will Hearst the third was the publisher right this is a family that's been in the media business forever and and hopes to stay in the media business forever. We're. In a different situation we, are owned by an investment. Firm better, known as a hedge fund and there's some worse names for it on, the East Coast that is, very. Much interested in the current cash. Flow. Newspapers. Because of all of our wonderful subscribers, we generate a lot of revenue now. And that, money is a very nice kind, of cash machine for the owners they're far less interested, in actually investing, in the future and so some of the tools that Hearst has the, work that Hearst has done as a corporation, to, move all of their papers across the country forward we're, doing that ourselves in the Mercury News newsroom and so, there's. A gentleman. Who was a reporter for The Associated Press was. Part of the knight fellowship program here spent. His time here researching subscription. Models and how how, subscribers, will support journalism, in the future and he's not working with us leading that effort in our news room. And. We. We. Are trying to strike, that balance between. Doing. The stories that we know are the most important stories to do the stories that we, have to do as journalists, that are important to serve our role in a, functioning, democracy or, a semi-functioning. Democracy. These days as, best we can and, doing, the stories people want to read and there are fascinating conversations. In the newsroom about well, I need to go do this story I got to cover this meeting and well, but nobody reads that well but it's really important, yeah. But if nobody reads it was, it really important, when, we put stories in the newspaper we think we know what people want read and every, reporter, will tell you every, story I wrote that was on the front page was. Read by every single person who got the newspaper that day because, of course they all got the newspaper to read my story in fact. Many. Of us had the experience of picking up a newspaper and going. Straight to let's, say the crossword puzzle or the movie listings or whatever else we, all use newspapers, in different ways when, you start publishing online you really understand, what people want to read and what, they want more of and so. It. Doesn't mean we only write the stupid celebrity stories, we do those because they bring a lot of people in. But. We do try to focus on the kinds of stories people really want to read and the stories that the data tells us people want to read and they react to we, do a newsletter every day that gives you a complete, it. Gives you the sense of somebody sitting down next to you on the bus or on borrowed or at a coffee shop and walking you through all the day's news and. We've strongly, believe that the, newsletter. Is. The closest, thing we have now to the old print newspaper if you don't get a print newspaper drop it on your front porch every day the. Most, analogous. Thing we can do to that is dropping a newsletter in your email box that tells you what's going on in the newspaper so we are within. The newsroom trying to build an understanding of what people want to read giving, people more of those kinds of stories and it's, causing us to invest in more, investigative. Reporters, in more, regional. Stories we this. Will come as a shock to everybody but we found out that nobody in the bay area ever has a conversation, that is not about housing prices and. How expensive it is to live here and all, the trailers, and RV's and I don't have to tell you you live here. And are you finding, like on the investigative. Stuff that, that leads to subscriptions, you have you figured that out yet we are starting, to we we've, benefited, from. Being. Very close to a lot of other publishers, and sharing a, lot of information that the competition, in this business is pretty much gone we share a lot of information with each other we have two and we've, learned from a lot of other folks who are ahead of us in this process that they've seen a good.

Increase, In subscriptions, from investigative, a lot, of news organizations are growing their investigative, units we do see that the local stories that have some impact do, draw more subscriptions and we're just starting to bring. In a bunch of it, because. I've heard from publishers. Around the country, that as they look at the data you. Is that, kind, of reporting, and, longer. Stories, and stories are absolutely, unique, to to. Their publication. That they can now associate, Neil, says you can track everything. Fernando described how you track it it, and look, at the good news the the small piece of good news in that that, there are people who care about that and that links, to their money which, goes to paying journalists, and there's a bigger piece of good news than that yeah for, 20 years people in the newsrooms have. Sat there and watched the business collapse. You remember shopping at Mervyn's in Circuit City and levites furniture, and Toys R Us and Sports Authority and I could go on and on and on old are you I'm. Old. I. Was. At Wells Fargo it was founded. As. Those. Businesses, collapsed, the, Sunday paper got smaller right considerably, those ads aren't there anymore there was a time when if you wanted to find out what was playing at the movie theater you either called up the theater or you picked up the newspaper we, would sneak into the composing room but the examiner in the 80s just try to see the classified, listings for apartments, the night before the paper got printed to get a jump on finding an apartment in San Francisco because it was hard it's still hard so, that monopoly. Is gone right, there are many other places to get that information. News. Journalists for the last 20 years have watched the business just shrink around us and now. We, can say to the journalists, if we. Do stories people want to read they. Will pay for them and that. Will be a business that is sustainable, long term and will support the journalism that we're trying to do and that's a big. Emotional. Change objective, so tell me to tell them what Ryan's up to. Ryan. The guy who was the the, night, fellow here, is. Building a digital subscription, business for us with, help in the news room. Based. On understanding, how. People behave, online, and. How different kinds of people are more likely to subscribe so one of this one of his areas of interest is ad blockers, a lot, of people use software on their on their websites, that block the ads which. Is okay. But. If you're using an ad blocker we asked you to subscribe because, now you're not seeing any ads and you're not paying us for the content and. So, we're building specialized. Ways also to our horse does well where if you're using an AdBlocker we, invite you in a different way to subscribe, maybe more quickly than we would if you were seeing some of the ads. We're. Doing an event tomorrow night in Oakland to talk about housing issues with the community, and he's, going to be there to understand how the community interacts with us and start to learn how the people who are closer to the issues we cover, consume. The news and in what ways they're. Most likely to want to support us and subscribe so, you can see it as common thread here and those going on throughout, the, industry and, Hearst. Basically. Maybe, two years ago committed, significant, resources, in New York to figuring this out for their newspapers, Neal's figuring this out for, Bay, Area and, what and what they're doing here and when. I go and talk to the Financial, Times in, London they were the ones actually New York Times copied, their pay well for their Financial, Times they. Figured this out in the early 2000s. And they'll, and the whole area is called propensity, modeling. How, likely as each of you to subscribe and, figuring, that out now let's, move to a little larger, frame here in to some of the questions that Don raised which, are the pivotal questions, about community, country.

Democracy, So. If we look at overall. What, this change is meant we've had huge. Decline in advertising, the decline advertising. Is beyond. Belief 30. Billion, dollars, a year less, goes. Into, the daily, newspaper, coffers, than it did. Well. Now 12 years ago 30. Billion dollars a year. So. The, the industry is 60%. Downsize. At. The same time. Neil, mentioned all the all the cash that flows, through the newspapers, it's not just cash its prophets, so. The prophets of, and I'm just running down this number and it's an imprecise, number today but, somewhere. Between a billion, and a billion and a half dollars. In free. Cash flow basically profits. Flow. Out of American, newspapers, still, today 1200. Newspapers, left about a hundred dailies have gone away over the last decade, but, they're producing, a billion, and a billion and a half dollars, in profit. Even. Though the readers, the, print readership drop, in five to ten percent a year struggling. Very. Very much on print advertising, and digital, digital, subscription, is slow to take off so. What we're seeing too, much and unfortunately, Neil's parent company is the the, poster child for it is what's. Called harvesting, it. Turns out that in an industry that throws off a billion dollars, you, can harvest a lot of money for. A long time and people. And I've written about this too. Much I think but. People. People. Didn't understand that there are a lot, of businesses, that just do that they find declining industries, so, what, we now have and we had a report coming out came out last, last. Monday. Or week ago Monday from. Penny Abernathy, at the University of North Carolina who. Has coined, the term News, desert, and also. Ghost newspapers. And. She talked about in that in that report to just out that. There are now 1500, communities, that have lost substantial. News that. Their 1800, newspapers. That have closed since 2004. Seventeen, hundred of them weeklies and then, there's this map if you go to just. Put news deserts, into, Google. You'll, see the map and the, map shows, wide, swaths, of the country where. There, is only, maybe one newspaper, in an entire county that's, often a weekly and there. Are a whole bunch of places where there's no newspapers, left at all now. We can kind of see the results, of that, in the democracy. But. If, we if we look at the bay area it's a very interesting question we, have here. We. Have one. Of the most affluent educated, audiences. In in the world and yet. In many of these communities because. Resources, have been limited, there, are news, deserts, so, let's talk about coverage. And what what that means in terms of an eel brought up the choices, that you now have to make the. Staffs of these newspapers, are far smaller than, they used to be the, industry is not only downsize, 60 percent in revenue, but, 60 percent in news, room staff. Across. Across, the the country about. 24,000. People work. In daily newsrooms that's it and. And. That that number was as high as. 56,000. In, 1990. And we have 70 million more people so this has been this is a bigger problem, talk. About a little about your. Resources, and the. Kind of choices, that you have to make yeah, well. I would say I mean I appreciate you sharing, those stats because they're, true. And they are alarming. You. Know back in 1990, it was the newspaper that's what you publish, now. It's an incessant, news. Cycle, that's. 24/7. Doesn't. Let up it's, led by Washington. It's led by climate. It's led by California.

It's Led by Sacramento. And. So you do have a much. Smaller newsroom. At, a. Time when. The. Platforms. Are multiplying, and the, ways in which people are expecting. Their news now it's not just to Kindle they want audio right. They want to be able to listen to their news, at some point they're gonna ask their refrigerator. Play. Me the Chronicle, right and we. Need to figure that out because, we, need to be there or we'll, need to be there in some shape and, we. Can't go and cleave a portion of our newsroom to start an audio division, right, so, we've got to find sort. Of the what we like to call or, don't like to call in the newsroom is just working in the margins yeah so we try to figure out like hey that, guy two, jobs ago was at a radio station you know that, gal over there she did newsletter, management, and her other job and what, what can she tell us about how we can cobble together new. Workflows. Re-engineer. Our processes, so, that we can still create. What. We would consider to be that polished. Best-in-class. Newspaper. Experience, for, the folks who are paying top, dollar for, it while. At the same time being, able to populate what. Feels like an infinite number of new channels and at. The same time still. Both. Our own journalistic. Ambition, and responsibility. By. Covering the news president. A chronicle staffs probably, been reduced I don't know the numbers is a chronicle maybe by half yeah we're at 173. 178. Right now it was over 400 at its height yeah, more. Than half more, than half and so you can see all that all the challenges, they're just just a. Quick. Perspective, of the kind of challenges, of having you do more and then. Of course that, you could say well, just do the reporting, but. Through. Digital channels, you have to feed all of these kinds of products and, audio. Fernando. Said you know we like to have an audio unit the, New York Times well, it's it got to where it needed to be how. Many of you listen to the daily podcast. This. Is only maybe. A year and a quarter old at this point amazing. Penetration. They, didn't know that it was going to become a major part of what they're doing the, last count they have 18 people working in audio yeah so they recognize it out Fernando, recognizes, the same thing that. The. Alexa. Smart speaker friend here will, be telling us the news in five years we, know that's going to happen in some way because it's, so easy, but. If you're so resource. Constrained, you. You, the, businesses, are in a downward spiral even though you've got editors. Like this and many, incredibly, hard-working journalists. Who, know what to do but, they simply don't have enough resources to do it tell. Us about the kind of choices that you had to make as, you've. Been in your job, I'm guessing, almost to year two and a half years she's gonna happen it just feels like three. We. Make a lot of choices every day right, we we.

Have We have made, some choices to stop doing some things you have to do that in order to focus on the things you're going to do, we. Made a deal with our friends at the Sacramento Bee they. Have a lot more people in the state capital than we do, understandably. Not just in the Sacramento newsroom but they have a capital Bureau in the state capital with, like six or eight people they, have two people in their Washington bureau, they cover state politics better than we do, we. Have a bigger Sports Desk than they do and a lot of people in Sacramento follow the Bay Area sports teams. So the, editor and I were talking we said you know what let's just trade take. All my sports stuff you want do whatever you want with it I'm gonna take all your politics stuff do whatever I want with it there's, no contract, there's no terms there's, no signatures. Or dollars it's just let's, help each other out let's, share some things, so. In some cases we make a choice to share with somebody rather than doing it ourselves. We, have 30. Weekly. Papers around the Bay Area they. Are in, some, cases things that we started in some cases there were things that we acquired over the years the Bay Area news group is a collection of what, used to be probably 20 different news, organizations. It's the Oakland Tribune the Contra Costa Times the San Mateo County Times the Mercury News and a bunch of other publications all kind of the Marin Independent Journal we're. Down to three papers now the East Bay Times The Mercury News and the Marin Independent Journal, and. Those. Thirty weeklies they. Have a lot of stories in them and those of you who are looking to me with a scowl right now are the ones you get that weekly every week and. Don't find much from your community in it anymore because, we don't have the. Level of community coverage we used to have there, are a hundred and one cities. Towns. In the Bay Area in the nine-county Bay area there. Are 400, plus. Jurisdictions. City Council's school boards water district sanitation, districts specialists, in that districts. Sheriff's, departments police departments. To. Cover all those agencies, the way we used to we can't do it anymore and so, we've, made some tough choices about. Doing more regional stories the, housing beat we created is covering the housing not just housing in general and home prices but. One particular, story which is that for every, ten. New tech jobs in the Bay Area we've. Created one new housing unit in the past decade Wow, that, leads to everything, we all experience, every day from the traffic to people. Who take a two and a half hour train ride from Tracy, and Stockton to come work in San Jose to, the people in the RV's and things that you see around here, to. People making 40,000, $400,000. A year 40-year old people living.

Together And houses the way college students live lived, and. College students came in afford to live anywhere in our campus right so. We. We. Made a choice to cover that story intensively. Because it touches so many different areas, of. Equity. Of renting. And owning, and, immigration. Issues and, traffic. And infrastructure, and education at. The expense of a lot of other things we, don't cover many of the large companies in the Bay Area anymore. We, don't cover the earnings of most of the big companies lots of other people do that you don't need us to do that we. Need to take our limited resources. Relatively. Limited you're going to hear from some people in the next session who have far smaller newsrooms than we do and do more. Amazing, work in their communities, that we won't go on the aspire to be able to do to, do as well as they do but, with the size of team we have we. Make decisions every day about which. Things to cover how, to cover something it's a regional interest, skipping. Something local picking up something national, from somebody else and. There are tough choices we'd like to cover more of it but you've got to figure you, got to make some decisions about what's a most important, and be most likely to drive people to subscribe so we have the revenue to keep covering. Things so let me ask you let me ask Don to bring up some questions I see we have a lot of good questions so just bring them up any time and I. Ask you both a question off, of that so. Smaller. Staff a lot, of choices need to be made many. Many, too many choices, makes. A lot of sense the kind of regional orientation, and I know you're doing the same thing, what. About the, smaller startups, at UC Berkeley side is one has gotten a lot of recognition there, are a number of smaller. Ones in, the Bay Area and across the country a lot, of them think. Berkeley Side has maybe a half a dozen people. Full-time yep. And some and. And Sue is on the next panel, from. I nn. Lots. Of organizations. That incredibly. Dedicated journalists. Small, staffs how. Much do you see that going on in the Bay Area and can, can. You see a a, world in which those. Proliferate. And you connect, with them is. That is, that happening, in your view it should it happen what, do you think I mean, you guys have a good partnership with these guys have done a lot of and you don't more more, regional, private projects - yeah and I would say that the the, the. Better partnership, is with Cal matters now we, were publishing a lot of Cal matters which to Neil's point about partnering, with the Sacramento Bee our, choice was to go with Cal matters which is it let me ask the audience how many of you know recognized. The name Cal Manor, so. Relatively. Few four or five describe, describe what it is so cal matters is a nonprofit. Nonpartisan. I. Are. They watchdog, are they policy, oriented but, they're basically doing a lot of policy, coverage. In Sacramento.

That As Neal described, has just sort of fallen away as. As. Everybody, has pulled bureaus, paired, that paired them down but. They also have. A, Creative. Commons open, copyright, policy, where they want to share their content they, want to get more reach for their journalism, and so they offer it for free and. So our my. Counterpart, in print Michael gray works very closely with the folks at Cal matters to coordinate, publishing, their, stories, in The Chronicle, so. That's been one way I, would. Say, my. Personal opinion yeah is that. Berkeley. Side. Devil. Strip. You. Know flip, beat that's. The future, the. Question is, what's. After that, do. Do those smaller, news, organizations. Band. Together to, form, the regional. Infrastructure. Necessary, to, do, larger. Swings like, what Neal's describing. Like, what Audrey. Cooper with. The homeless project, right because they are small right and by, a necessity have to focus on. Topics. That they can tackle but they can also partner, right and you'll hear from Cu about how I did, newsroom. Newsrooms do that and you have a model. In, Panama. Papers and I, see AJ of doing this at a massive, scale the, question is just how do you do and. Who does it right so when, when, his boss Audrey cooper reached out to papers all and news organizations all, around the Bay Area and said let's all cover homelessness, on the same day it, was a brilliant idea and it got a lot of people talking about homelessness on all on the same day. We. Have failed time, and time again over the past 20 years in the, large, media, company, world to be the leaders in making new things happen and if. We fail again, it will be because, organizations like the Mercury News go away and. Smaller. Startups, have to scramble, and fill the hole as opposed, to saying look. We are the largest news organization, in the South Bay but we're no no, where near as large as we used to be so, we need to partner more aggressively. Professor, Craig's here from from San Jose State the, Spartan daily has a wonderful, staff of editors and reporters who. Are, far more diverse than people in my newsroom and touch every part of the community in the, San Jose area we should be using them as part of our news gathering right. Berkeley. Side all the other startups, small organizations, bloggers the more we reach out and partner with those folks the, more we create sort of a news ecosystem. That supports everybody and, we help, let's. Reach out to people who are doing a strong good job of community journalism, and help them do it rather, than sit here and expect it all to go away or somehow we're, gonna die if we, don't find a new way to rebuild. Our business and by the way we're gonna die before the Chronicle does because they have a real owner. Yes. This is on the record I don't care and, it's. It's, very possible that the Chronicle will end up being, a Bay Area wide newspaper if we if we become too small but, the the better idea, right is to, have an ecosystem in the Bay Area we're, a bunch of journalists, at all different levels local, and regional. Expert. And, amateur. Student, and veteran, professional are, all doing journalism all, day long to get the best report, we can for the Bay Area what, I would just add to that is one, of the things that you do see in an organization, like Berkeley, side is that. Innovation, toward. Membership. Toward. Engagement. That companies. Of the size that Neal and I work at there's a lot of layers of bureaucracy you, know so I give him a lot of credit for hiring to build that. Infrastructure. In his own newsroom but, whichever. Way it goes the. Chronicle, will not have six. People covering Berkeley ever, again. And, neither, will the murk or neither will these Bay Times right, so that's something that we also have to embrace it's competitively. Collaboratively. How. Do it's about the journalism, you know it's not about beating each other it's not about beating Berkeley side it's about ensuring that, we.

Are Holding power to account and if, Berkeley. Side broke that story then it then we should give them that credit but, we should also help amplify that story good enough to let's have the audience that they don't have because, we reach so many more readers than they do, for. Now so you see I mean you see here, and this is happening, basically, every. Metron, area around the country so, all our communities, depending on who their owners are or even in worse shape. And. So. You have a system, that, worked for so well especially since World War two, and. The, power, of that of that essentially, monopoly, daily and and, the reporting power at hat was, amazing, and the ability to have at, least a couple people in Berkeley and people, covering, a lot of the institutions to the 101 cities. It. It is broken. There, are pieces, being. Rebuilt, the. Pieces, re being, rebuilt or maybe 1/10. Of what was lost and they're. Not connected. And, that's kind of a snapshot of what, what you're hearing is this is going on across, the US and amazingly, our smart Canadian, friends, have, it even worse. They. Have one other hedge fund that bought all the newspapers, across all the provinces and it, has treated them very poorly. Let. Me get to a couple of questions, here so. No. I like this one no offense to anyone in the audience but. This group, skews, older, it's. A smiley face I never. See anyone under, under, 40 reading a physical, newspaper, when. Do you expect the physical paper to disappear, have. You looked at that that. Question yeah so. There. Is a principle, in. Making. Change happen in an organization, that. I'm gonna mangle because business, professors talk about it it's over my head but, the basic idea is that you scare the crap out of people and then you show them a solution right. Dissatisfaction. Vision and plan equals change. When. I got to my newsroom two and a half years ago a lot of people who've been working there for a long time didn't. Know how small our circulation, is now compared to what it used to be didn't. Know that the East Bay Times circulates, more copies than the Mercury News didn't. Know about a lot of the changes have happened in the industry that the data just wasn't shared with them and they've been there for a long time just doing their thing so I, said. Look the first thing we have to understand is where we are and I, built a very simple chart, the. Circulation. Of the mercury news the East Bay Times together, the two papers, plotted. Over the past I think eight or ten years it. Has gone down every year the number of copies goes down every year because this person's right nobody. Under 40 reads a print newspaper very few people. They. Read them on campus because you're in a concentrated, place where you can pick up a print paper which is great I have, a 21 year old daughter who, consumes.

More News every day than I do but never reads a print paper. We. Looked at the circulation, and plotted it over the past eight or ten years and just drew a line through that and through. That line the Mercury News in print is gone. Somewhere in the mid 2020s, there. Are no more print copies of the mercury news I don't, know that'll necessarily happen at least on Sunday I think we can sustain a good Sunday paper if it's a good weekly. Paper, we. Just invested a bunch of money to upgrade our printing press The Chronicle just took over their printing press on there they're running it from the company that used to run it there's, still a commitment, to the printed newspaper we're gonna do it as long as it's physically. Possible and feasible the. Other thing that is hurting our circulation, not just the number of copies people are buying is the. Trouble, the difficulty, in distributing, the newspaper which. To our surprise is becoming a bigger problem than and, those of you who have a lousy just delivery service are nodding. At this point I'm sorry, just email Neal if you need to get your paper just email Ken he'll take care of it. Our. Delivery service sucks, in some areas and if. You think about it a carrier gets paid a certain amount of money to deliver, a newspaper to a house it. Used to be us we were kids right on our bicycles and wagons going around the neighborhood's every, house in the paper got it you could hit 100, papers within ten blocks well, now there's maybe two houses on the block and some of these blocks are giant subdivisions, on the southern half of San Jose there they're miles apart it. Doesn't make economic sense to be a carrier anymore and you can make a lot more money sitting in your air-conditioned, car working for uber and lyft or working in the Amazon warehouse or whatever else and so, we're, now sharing your guess is 2025. Mid, 2025, something like that I'll. Be around longer what do you think I think that. Print. And this is the digital guy but, I think that print, also is, ready for a disruption, and a, lot of the conversations, that we're having you.

Know Because our our, deadlines, keep getting earlier and earlier right, which means that ultimately this. Is the next question let me add that to, your thinking, as you answer that yeah. Why. Does the the Merkin The Chronicle give me a news, that it's two days old right. So. A I answer, the deadline question yeah so so, so part of it I would say and. I'm not gonna try to dodge, this question, because they think, your. Concept. Of news, is relative. It's, what if it's what happened, two days later then absolutely, that's old but if it's why did that happen what. Does it mean what. Will it mean that's, a different context. And I think that right now as Neil, was describing, the sort of like how we make our bets and how we resource. We. Break stuff on the web and if. We're publishing, a story in the paper that, ran on the web at 3 p.m. the day before then, then, then. We're not doing our jobs, right we're not editing, and I, think that what we need to be doing is doing more, analysis, more. Context. And that, the newspaper. Is for. Reading. You. Think it'll stay seven days I think, that. 2020. I think the paper, will stay 125. 2026. No, I think I think by I think by 2025. Well. We're heading into a recession so we'll see maybe 2020, right, because. It's just it's all hard costs its logistics, if the drivers, don't, want to carry it listen. To that 2020. That. Is. Almost. Next year look at the fact the fact that a recession, is coming I think a lot of people who people. Who. Know what they're talking about all think there's a recession coming that is gonna hit hard in businesses, that are already, on. The edge, change. Everybody, in the Bay Area wants, the recession to hit before the midterms right yeah right so. The. Terror that the tariffs, which have been on and off and the tariffs on newsprint have hurt us we're, taking a big hit right now in the. Advertising related, to h-1b, visas you you want to bring somebody in from another country or h-1b visa yet let's place an ad in the paper those, ads are a lot of revenue to us that's. Going away there's a lot of change that's happening very quickly and if we just sit here saying gee I hope the print paper goes on forever we, will be out of business so the, Boston, Globe is. The most, successful, of all the regional, newspapers, at digital subscriptions, and, time back that to saying, at the beginning what, we were discussing they. Got about a hundred thousand, digital subscriptions, and what, they're doing is they, are charging. Dollar. Day. 365. Dollars, a year for digital subscription, by, far, the. Highest I've heard and. The, owner basically. Has said he's billionaire, John Henry and, he, has said it's. The same content, we're doing a good job we're, doing all these products, and had. Really good people working, the system I have, talked to the globe and I said okay, what. Does it look like to you do you think what is good print, gonna go away and do you want it to go away right. Because, the question, for for all of us here, and all of you isn't. The, paper as much, as we may be attached to it and we like it and of course the reporting, and the content, right and so the question, really is and, a lot of people ask that question in some form. Well, newspapers, ever go away when I'm asked. That as an analyst, I say have you looked at one lately. Because. It's a shadow of what it was right, it's still physically, printed but look at the content. The. Globe has looked at this question and the, globe would like print, to go away it, is very, very, expensive, to print truck, deliver. All. Of that have a big building, pay all those salaries. They, would like it to go away and so, the exercise. Is how do you keep the same number of people in the, globe newsroom, in. A purely digital product, and their, answer, is between, 250.

And 300, thousand. Digital, subscribers, at about. That, current, price which I would hope would go up at 365, could. Pay that, newsroom the, company would be much smaller now. They've done it some other companies have done that exercise but. As Fernando said this could be and we're seeing papers close this year Gate House just closed seven papers in Missouri. And Arkansas and, when. The recession comes whatever it is we're. Gonna see a real washout. But. I think, it's really important, for us to focus on that question and it's and this. Is a smart audience and. We, you know that you're all newspaper readers you gotta be smart right. This. Is the question of how do we maintain the reporting, it's, gotten, to such a point that there, is an emergency, declared, within, our industry and there, are people talking about a billion, dollar fund here and a billion dollar fund there to, fund get more money into the industry, but. There's no place to put it in a way that's going to sustain anything. Because, the system today is broken, so. It's a really interesting moment I know we have to wrap up I apologize, for not getting all these we'd have another hour of questions, would be good but. It's a really interesting moment and. Fernando. And Neil have really given you a good portrait I think on the ground and as much as we get to in one hour of the, real challenges that, they face and why. The situation, is, so hard but, this is a national question. And it's, now being approached, nationally. By some very wealthy. And powerful people, who see the threat to democracy and, they're trying to figure out what, that new system whether it's 2020. Or, 2025. Might, look like and. I would just urge you to participate, in, that thinking in any way that you can as we go forward so thank, you. Okay. Good evening and welcome back with your break, I'm Michael Bolden one of the managing directors, for the knight fellowships, here at Stanford, in. Our first panel we had a robust, discussion with. Two newsroom leaders in, legacy newsrooms adapting. To the changing demands, of the digital age in this. Panel will talk with four people involved in novel ways of sustaining, local news organizations, I'll. Provide short introductions, of our guests but for more in-depth backgrounds. Please visit canvas, our online class platform, which, has additional, information on each of them along.

With More information, about their organizations. Also. As a reminder if you have questions. Erica. Bartholomew our administrative, director is circulating, index cards please, raise your hand and she'll be glad to collect your questions. So. First at my far right we. Have sue cross who is executive director and CEO, of the Institute for nonprofit, news that's. A network of more than 180. News organizations. That share best practices, in training and collaborate. On public service and investigative, news stories, she. Is a former, senior vice president, of The Associated Press and served. As AP's Los Angeles, bureau chief to. My immediate right we, have Chris horn chris. Is a. 2019. JSK fellow and founder. And publisher of, the devil strip an arts, and culture magazine that, focuses on, conducting, residents, of Akron Ohio to, each other by, sharing stories, about what makes the city unique and. The devil strip if you don't know is a term used to refer to the space between tracks, on a streetcar line or the, no-man's land between, public, and private property. To. My immediate left we. Have Jack Wanda Johnson, Jaquan. De is founder, and publisher of Flynt beat an online. News publication. That focuses, on covering, the city of Flint Michigan, she. Launched flint beat in March 2017. And she's, worked for the Detroit News NBC, 25. Fox. And the M live media group. At. My far left we, have clay Lambert clay. Has been a new paper reporter, and editor for more than 30 years since. 2012. Has been editor of the Half Moon Bay review, which, has served coastal, San Mateo County since 1898. Last. Spring a group of community members bought, the Half Moon Bay review, from, the Witt communications. Newspaper. Change so. That's, our panel to. Quote fernando from our last panel he talked about you. Know some, of these news organizations being. The future the, future is now so let's go there. So. First i'm going to turn to sue cross because. She runs an organization called the institute, for.

Nonprofit. News so what, is non-profit, news what, is this thing that we keep hearing about so nonprofit, news is one. Model of news that's, growing rapidly and it shows us some new possibilities. Around. These economic, tangles. It. Isn't, a substitute for running a news business nonprofits. Have to run as businesses, like other businesses. Do but, what's happening around the, country is. That. Communities. That have seen these cuts in their commercial, news, media or lost, any local media are. Forming. Their own news media this is often journalists, displaced, from, traditional. Media who are starting these up but, increasingly, we are hearing from business, people we're hearing from, community. Foundations, other community. Leaders calling. Saying we have lost our news can, you help us figure out how to get something started. And, this isn't just in the US I just returned from a week in Canada, with, foundations, and government officials, and, journalists, looking at the same issue the, same, discussions, are happening throughout, the UK and, other, countries as well. So, what, distinguishes. Nonprofit. Is who are a couple of things you know the biggest one that people go to right away is well, you get donations, it's, based on donations, rather than, selling. Things and to some extent that's true the, nonprofit's, we see in the. Country and there's somewhere. Between 200. And 300 of them now and there their numbers are growing rapidly, that. 90%, of their funding comes from, philanthropy. So. Traditionally. That was foundations. That gave them seed funding, and started, them increasingly. It's individual, donors, people. Like you and me and, wealthy. Individuals, who decide to back these things in that, piece is growing and then they also do, they. Do do business, they hold, events they're very community-based they. Get. Sponsorship. It's not so much like traditional advertising, but more like the sponsorship. Of programs you might hear on NPR, and. They'll. Find other ways to make money as well doing, training, and all kinds of things so they're.

Feeling. Their way toward different business, models, so. That's, how they make money the other thing, that I, would say really, distinguishes. Nonprofit. News. Is. Its. Ownership, structure, because it's owned by the community by law the. Way it's structured, the. Public, owns a, non-profit. And it's. It, is, founded. On the basis, that's providing, a public service, and therefore it gets a tax break and that. Means it's, much more difficult. For a. Non-profit. That's essentially, owned by the community and controlled, by a board representing. That community, to. False subject, to being taken. Over by an investor, who might strip out those costs, and that kind of thing and that's the other reason I think you're seeing the model, growing is this sense of a public trust and that it's a public good like your library, or hospitals. And things like that and. So. That's the other foundational. Difference, thank, you sue so. Shaquanda. Flint beet is a member of the, institute for nonprofit. News and, you're, relatively new organization. Can. You talk to us about why. You went that route and. What, you thought that being a nonprofit in, Flint would, mean for Community News I. I. Think I went that route because I do provide. A public service, one. Of the reasons flint beet was launched is because the residents, asked for it I was. Working for EM live media group the time covering, City Hall and we're. In the middle of this water crisis, and so, residents, will talk to me I'm from Flint and so, residents, will talk to me about what was missing, like those news gaps and they. Were pretty. Much tired, of seeing crime, water. Crisis, in sports. And. So. It. Was because of the community, yeah that, I jumped out there without, thinking. It through. And. Lost my beat so I'm. Really grassroots. Community. Driven. News. You. Find me in meetings that other news media they don't attend, or. They're not even invited to if. You go through my Facebook page of, most, of those people are residents and, people from the community and, so. I look at it that way like this is a real, grassroots. Effort. That. We do with fun Pete so I, read, in an, article that, in 2017. I think you raised, five, thousand dollars through advertising. Or. Something like that I. Started. A modest GoFundMe, campaign and. I raised, just. Shy of two thousand, dollars and, again. Since I'm community, 30%, of our residents. They do not have internet access at, home and, last, year we had this really big recall, election, we. Had about 17, people running for mayor then. We had about 17, people running, for nine seats on the City Council, and. I. Produced, a voters guide. Printed. 5,000. Copies and, we saw as for that okay. Great. And so Chris. Runs, the devil strip which. Is also a nonprofit, and. You made that decision fairly, recently, I believe, yeah we're nonprofit ish okay. So, tell, us what non-profit, ish means. And why you went there I, started. As a for-profit, we've been around for three and a half years we started March, 2015.

Wait. Yeah. Thank. Well. You're doing. Appreciate. That I can't do that math so. We started in that profit there's a for-profit because it'd be easier, frankly. Then the paperwork that it would have required to be a 501, C 3 plus, kind. Of logic Wanda I didn't. Think about it very much it's, just like I wanted to do this thing and, just. Jump right into it now after. Getting. Meet sue, and, getting. To hear some of the other, nonprofits. Working in that field at AI re a conference, in. Orlando this year well. This would make sense to dabble. In this space a little bit ultimately, what I want to do though is be, a community, owned cooperative. So. I come. From a part. Of Georgia middle Georgia. That's, not, exactly rural, but really close to a lot of rules stuff and so they have these electrical. Utility, co-op. Operating. In these areas where for-profit. Companies never saw the financial. Incentive to go and I. Look at our situation, with news deserts in a very similar way now I don't think we're going to get the, kind of government support that. Those utilities, got the, guy had loans that they were, able to pay

2019-01-26 00:42

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