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Papers that adapt will survive says editor

by Iain Green A newly-appointed regional editor has told students his paper faces a “fight for survival” from the twin challenges of the recession and the internet.

Coventry Telegraph editor David Brookes was speaking to journalism students at Coventry University yesterday in the latest in a series of lectures by industry figures.

Since taking over from Alan Kirby in January, Mr Brookes has overseen a huge restructuring operation at the Trinity Mirror owned title with the move to a multimedia newsroom.

While insisting that there’s “a place for the Coventry Telegraph in the new digital age,” he acknowledges that “local publications have to adapt and change to new methods in order to stay alive.”

“The future of journalism is not exclusively on the web, and the notion that the internet will abolish newspapers is far too simplistic to be true,” stated the former Sunday Mercury editor.

“But times are changing at a rapid pace, and whilst it would be lovely to stop the decline of sales in the short-term, it’s a harder prospect to uphold in practice.

“I’m a firm believer that print and online content should compliment each other. It’s all about how we as a publication adapt, maybe placing breaking stories online before we cover them with an in-depth analysis in print.

“The newspapers that are quick to change their philosophy and move with the times are the ones who will pull through this difficult economic period and come out the other side all the better for it in years to come.”

Mr Brookes remains positive about managing the decline in sales of printed editions whilst using the digital revolution to the paper’s advantage.

“I’m supremely confident that the Coventry Telegraph will survive these times, thanks largely to the re-structuring and re-invention of our newsroom,” he said.

“Our journalists are now multimedia journalists, with the skills to get the story, write copy, publish to the web, take photos and shoot videos.

“We have a new website to be launched in April which signals our intent to entice a larger audience and encourage the public to either get involved with, read or watch our experts at work, while at the same time attracting potential investors to come on board for commercial opportunities.

“The content we provide our consumers with is king, and if we continue to provide the quality of copy that we do at present, then I have no doubts that the Coventry Telegraph will shrug off the recession and prosper once again.”


samanthacashin (12/03/2009 09:38:07)

Golam Murtaza (12/03/2009 09:57:10)
“Our journalists are now multimedia journalists” – he says.
Cool, so you’ll be paying them more for the extra skills they have and the additional hours they are having to work?
Oh, hang on a second…

Ton Stoddar (12/03/2009 10:21:48)
“Papers that adapt will survive” …As long as they all learn Mandarin and buy tractors, it might happen!

Peter Jeffery (12/03/2009 11:26:53)
Journos are supposed to be flexible and open-minded. So stop being so blinkered. Computers were greeted with horror when they first made their appearance in the newsroom, and technology has been viewed with distrust and fear ever since. You can’t stop progress and development. The marketplace will decide whether it wants to buy what you produce, and journos don’t have a monopoly on knowing what is right for their readers. So let’s see how these new developments can be made to work for, and benefit us.

Lister (12/03/2009 11:50:48)
The point that’s missing here is that progress, development and technology are nothing to do with the crisis in the regional press. The crisis and lost sales have been brought about by the race for obscene profits, lack of investment, dumbing down and sacrificing quality. It’s not journos who need to adapt to the present conditions – it’s management.

Colonel Mustard (12/03/2009 12:09:03)
I hope this is not a verbatim report of this editor’s speech. ‘Papers THAT are quick to change…’ Oh dear…

peter jeffery (12/03/2009 15:37:49)
I can’t beleive some of the comemnts I am seeing. Profits are not obscene, they are the only way newspapers can survive. They are what managements put into the company pension schemes for journos who retire. No loss-making business can survive, and newspapers are no exception to that rule. So live in the real world and help newspapers to survive by putting in your ideas and your talents, and stop threatening proprietors – it just makes you out to be dinosaurs.

Rikki (12/03/2009 16:01:03)
If there is no demand there is no product – Be it cars or newspapers. The end

Dead Ringer (12/03/2009 16:39:49)
Peter Jeffrey, whoever you are. Journalists can and do adapt. We are all multi-media skilled and understand the nature of breaking news and analysis and where and how to best publish both. However, the question I continue to ask and never have answered is over online revenue. It is all good and well taking the focus towards other platforms (oh how I hate that word) but please inform me how and when those other platforms are going to pay for your job, never mind mine. I, and most internet savvy people, ignore adverts and branding online. It’s why we surf – to look at what we want. So, unless there are figures, studies, secret ideas that will encourage online advertising, we should not focus all our attentions, which seems to be the case these days, on the net. For as long as is possible, we should be looking at what people want to buy their newspaper or at least read them for and make them actually worth reading. Even if they are free, if there is proof people are reading them we can sell advertising. Online is a great news provider but cannot and will not provide huge volumes of advertising revenue, at least for many years to come. Or am I really, really missing something? I must be – only management are clever enough to see …. (yeah right)

peter jeffery (13/03/2009 10:44:50)
Dead Ringer, how right you are. Just where is the revenue stream from websites? Have any papers yet made a profit from their sites? I suspect the sites, with breaking news and streaming live video are defences against television, just like frees were paid-for papers’ defences against competitors. We just have to produce what the public want, once we know what it is. Whoever you are? I’m a journo of more than 40 years’ experience, hot metal to Quark Xpress. Who are you?

Saruman Jones (13/03/2009 10:59:10)
Adapt and survive? Unlikely. Try as they might, they wont. Newspapers are relics. Everyone I know, myself included, get their up-to-the-minute news straight from the web. Not from tomorrows chip paper holding yesterdays (or several hours old) news.
Don’t be fooled into thinking there is money to be made online. For one thing online advertising it is far too competitive and as has been said, who reads online advertising? I haven’t read or seen an online add for 3+ years. Have you heard of adblockers? Popup blockers? There are some free, very sophisticated browser plugins which block all advertising content.

peter (13/03/2009 17:04:10)
Saruman, didn’t you know that health regulations do not allow chippies to use newspaper to wrap your chips any more? Another example of journos rushing into print without checking their facts?

Hacked off (16/03/2009 15:24:18)
You could have got a robot to recite this, it’s exactly the same spiel which was rolled out to us when we were told about the job cuts last August. Hopefully Coventry’s journalism intake are broad-minded enough not to swallow it all and find out what life is like in our wonderful “restructured” newsrooms, full of empty desks.