Howard Weaver – McClatchy

Posted on 02. Oct, 2007 by in Big Media, Hyperlocal, Politics

Introduction and Narrative: Howard Weaver has been involved with the interactive efforts of newspapers for his entire adult life – the editorial pages. “Even in the old analog world there was a kind of interactivity, I think it’s natural to come to this stage where we have better tools to try and extend that umbrella,” says Weaver. Today, Weaver is vice president for news at the McClatchy Company, a publisher of 31 daily newspapers, 50 community papers and many more websites.

Recent examples of networked journalism at McClatchy include the recent acquisition of Fresno Famous (see writeup) and a part of the News & Observer in Raleigh North Carolina is a community site called the Share Triangle. McCaltchy’s networked journalism efforts can be as simple as an Alaskan paper asking for pictures of the biggest fish caught, to their upcoming ambitions to create a participatory journalism project through their DC bureau.

Main Goal: It’s a new space with the same goal, to practice community journalism. “Journalism that empowers people, creates better citizens to participate in a democracy,” says Weaver.

A Surprising Realization: I’ve been more surprised by the pace of change than by its direction,” says Weaver. “To me the basic imperatives have been clear for some time, but I feel like there is an accelerating pace.”

Biggest Practical Lesson/Mistake: The biggest thing we’ve learned is having an integrated news staff and not walling off the online staff from the print staff. In some places the staffs were literally in different buildings and now we are largely integrated and encouraging people to become more integrated, including content ad-sales and management. It is a big lesson not to think of the delivery medium, but trying to serve the customer – putting the information how the consumer wants it rather than how we produce it, says Weaver.

Money: To begin Weaver had a disclaimer: “The revenue side is not my area of expertise, I’m a news guy and always have been.”

According to Weaver, McClatchy is finding revenue models online and should have $180-200 million in online revenues this year. The company has investments in and Career Builder that are promising and while the initial opportunity was in the classified it is finding that retail online is growing quickly.

Future Goals: “We think of ourselves as a mission driven company,” says Weaver. The main goal will not change and it remains the future goals as well. “For 150 years we have been trying to make the communities where we serve better places, the animating principle is public service journalism.”

What do you hope to get from people attending this conference?

We are, like everybody else, between infancy and adolescents in this process. Its an opportunity to be exposed to a lot of ideas in a short time and meet a lot of people whose names I only know from reading their blogs.


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