CHAIRMAN SAYS DON’T RETREAT

By: Staff Reports

Despite the current Internet economy, this is not a time for retrenchment
among media companies, said Robert Decherd, CEO of Dallas-based Belo, as he
addressed the E&P Interactive Newspapers conference Friday.

As the media industry tries to find its way in the aftermath of irrational
financial speculation on the Internet, Decherd emphasizes that there is a
business in new media. For him, “the consumer will light the path to
profitability, just as they always have,” he said.

He speculates media companies did get caught up in the contagious exuberance
of the Internet, building staffs aggressively. But now’s the time for
well-managed operations that focus on the core business: daily delivery of
news to consumer, said Decherd. He also reminded media companies that
they’re in the news and sales business, not technology.

Decherd, who noted that online audience levels continue to increase
dramatically, offered three points for publishers to focus on during the
tumult. First, media companies should focus on being the preeminent provider
of local news and information. “This is our franchise to lose,” he said.

Secondly, he said to be prepared for broadband. MySanAntonio.com, a joint
online venture between Belo and Hearst Corp., was his example of integrated
media in preparation for broadband. And thirdly, extend your journalistic
principles to your online sites.

Decherd added that Belo is still listening to pitches from Internet
companies.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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