The Newspaper Association of America has hired a vice president of innovation to discover industry insights and open up a dialogue between its 2,000 members. Michael MaLoon comes to the position with more than a decade of newspaper publishing experience. Since the early 2000s, MaLoon has worked at Gannett and GateHouse Media properties, and most recently, he served as the director of sales and operations at The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Chronicle of Philanthropy
“(As VP of innovation) my charge is to work with leadership across the membership as well as other partners to try and find solutions for us to evolve quickly and become more profitable across all platforms,” he said.
MaLoon said his first plan of action will be to gather a small group of “the best and brightest” for a roundtable to share ideas and discuss obstacles. MaLoon will then travel across the country visiting NAA members in their newsrooms to build case studies to discover how to best serve the industry.
Although he admitted it will be a challenge to meet with as many publishers as possible, he said it’s still important to visit members.
“Every market in the membership can be considered very different. You can’t put them all into one bucket,” he said. “Just because it’s a major metro, it’s not obviously the same as going to a small community hub.”
While MaLoon said publishers do need to focus on evolving to meet the demands of the digital world, he’ll also look at successful strategies on other platforms—including print—to find the best solutions for publishers.
“Saying digital only or print only is probably a misnomer. Really, it’s innovating the business to make sure the news business becomes more profitable and prosperous,” he said.
In addition, he said the NAA is also focused on innovating itself. That includes looking at other industries with similar difficulties and learning from them, for example, retail’s challenge to overcome the rise of e-commerce.
“I hate to use the cliché, ‘not seeing the forest through the trees,’ but you know the entire world is changing through that digital space,” MaLoon said. “People are shopping (online), people aren’t calling cabs as often—they’re using Uber—you’ve got all these innovative things happening across the board in the digital space, it’s only to our advantage to look at everybody’s ideas and business policies to see what works.”
MaLoon will also share “the positive stories that are happening in the industry” by posting to the association’s website (naa.org) and tweeting his findings @mmaloonnaa.