By: Jennifer SAbaa
Two speakers during this morning’s general meeting at the Capital Conference in Washington D.C. spoke frankly about the state of newspapers and the direction of the industry.
John Sturm, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, told the audience that the organization is changing its mission and plans to tighten its focus to better serve members.
“We have never seen change like we have in the industry,” he said during his opening remarks.
Sturm acknowledged the issues are both cyclical and secular and that “even a strong economic rebound” will not turn the industry around on its own.
As such, the NAA plans to narrow its focus on the following: growing audience, growing revenue, and digital initiates. The association still plans to represent the industry on public policy issues on the Hill.
Sturm said the NAA going forward is not going to be all things to all people and that everyone will benefit from the tighter mission.
Additionally, Sturm announced “substantial” dues decreases that will be implemented over the next three quarters.
“We are going to have to become a very different industry,” Sturm said. “We are going to have to become a different organization.”
Sturm delivered his remarks and noted that more details will follow in the upcoming weeks.
Departing NAA Chairwoman Sue Clark-Johnson, dressed in a beige snakeskin jacket, said, “It’s a hellish time for newspapering for all the reasons we know.” However, the former head of Gannett’s newspaper division remains an optimist and nodded to this morning’s release about newspapers growing readership.
She called upon the audience to “move faster and be more aggressive” in bringing about change and then added that the industry needs to “work with our own reporters for fair and balanced coverage of our industry.”
In closing Clark-Johnson said: “What we do hasn’t changed. What we stand for hasn’t changed. And it is this, above all else that must be championed and preserved.”