‘Stakeholders’ Ponder Future p.19

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By: M.L. Stein

MANY NEWSPAPERS PLAN for the future, but the Everett, Wash., Herald is turning the process into a community-wide project.
The Herald’s management and members joined with community representatives as joint “stakeholders” in its future at a conference recently.
Preparations for the event were directed by a Senior Leadership Team made up of department heads, who selected participants from the paper, readers, advertisers and the others.
“We paused to reflect on the Herald’s recent successes and wondered about the future,” human resources director Ann Reed explained. “We were confident our immediate plans could carry us through the next few years, but what would happen ten years from now? What would our customers need and expect? What kind of future do our employees envision?”
At the conference, Future Search, the stakeholders were called upon to come up with ideas that will “make positive changes in our organization and to develop a stronger commitment to meeting the needs of our readers, advertisers and the communities we serve,” Reed continued.
The approximately 70 panel members included advertisers, subscribers, suppliers, community and business leaders, and union officials, according to Larry Hanson, publisher of the paper, owned by the Washington Post Co.
“There are risks in this, but that’s what it takes these days to publish a newspaper,” said Hanson. He said it’s up to management to “make the final call, but it’s important to us to hear ideas and concerns from the stakeholders. If they feel their voices don’t count, there is no point in inviting them. We could get ideas we haven’t thought about.”

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