Wednesday, 8 January 2014

San Fran Chronicle Shock! Puts Reporters through Digital bootcamp!



Interesting idea from one of America's oldest newspapers, The San Francisco Chronicle. It's 149 years old and owned by Hearst.

Audrey Cooper, the new Managing Editor appointed in May 2013 and only 37, has started a digital incubator or 'boot camp'. She is making all staff, notably reporters, to go through this incubator and understand more about digital publishing, for training.

It is to give a better understanding of clicks, metrics and referral sites (like Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest) to bring better insights into how stories get pushed out there. And to understand reader habits better.

They have had declines in their printed circulation to now, 300,000 readers only, but their website is picking up readers, although not fast enough to compensate for the printed readership decline. So it's a mindset change to put digital first, something I've spoken about before. It's new young publishers that have the digital savvy to embrace online and this scheme seems a good way to start.

For a lot of traditional newspaper people, they simply don't understand digital and frankly, most of us are embarrassed to ask when we don't. Absolutely understandable and reflects the general populus. But this is charming way of enlightening them all, without that embarrassment and in a way, motivating them. 

When you talk about the digital world, it tends to become exciting and opportunistic, rather than threatening.

She's on Twitter (@audreycoopersf) and LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/audrey-cooper/40/a71/17) and I've no doubt all other Social Media. A lesson there too for publishers - if you're not online, you'll never understand how it works.

But let's hope it all works out and proves to be a business success. It's certainly to be applauded.