In case, you missed all the ‘great’ media news today:

  • Gannett, the company I work for, announced another round of furloughs.
  • Booth Newspapers said the Ann Arbor paper will go online only later this year, while 3 other papers will follow the 3-day a week delivery model of the Detroit Free Press.
  • And Freedom Communications announced its own furloughs!

OK, enough said about that!  We have to remember people are not running away from our content and information.  They are moving from newspapers and, in many time periods, TV, to the web.

So what’s a journalist with 3 teenage daughters about to hit college (that’s me!) doing?  Everything possible to find out how we can stay relevant to our customers and keep them customers:

  1. That means really listening to them!  Use their comments on TV, follow up on their good ideas and thank them when we do their story – publicly.
  2. Keep looking for new ways to find, create and distribute all of our content.  But we can’t just do it because the technology is cool or new.  That’s part of it, but it also has to help us bring our customers to a scene better, faster or both.  Skype is one new way, so are Mogulus and Qik.
  3. We need to include them in our daily coverage beyond asking them to comment or pitch an idea.  Many of our customers can and probably want to help us better cover their communities.  The Grand Rapids Neighborhood News Bureaus are one way we can start.  We need to take an entrepreneurial approach to this: there are no bad ideas; no ideas are what’s bad!
  4. We can’t let furloughs, pay cuts or other challenges keep us from doing 1-3!  If we do, the bullet points at the top of the story will only get longer and more frequent.

   This is some of what I plan to say Thursday night at the Ford Museum.  That’s where the National Press Club is doing its local stop on a national tour, focusing on the future of journalism.  It starts at 7:30.  Hope you can make it.