New Media 101 for Newspaper Executives

By: Steve Outing

As any print publication's new media manager will tell you, the job is doubly difficult if the person at the top of the company isn't on board. Enthusiasm about interactive media and a vision for the future is a requirement not just of those in a newspaper's new media division, but of the top executives of the entire company.

So giant U.S. newspaper chain Knight-Ridder (KRI) is embarking on a program to educate the top executives at its nearly 30 daily newspapers in the ways of the Internet. Called the Knight-Ridder New Media Fellowships, the program invites executives from the editorial and business sides to spend an intense week in San Jose, California, at Knight-Ridder New Media headquarters, learning the interactive publishing landscape.

The rationale, according to fellowship program director and Knight-Ridder New Media vice president for editorial David Yarnold, is that "for every hour we spend with these people, we save 20 hours of engaging with their (new media) staffs."

Full plates

KRI newspaper top executives have much on their agendas and typically have limited time to focus on new media strategy, says Yarnold. The fellowship program was created upon the suggestion of Max King, executive editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who thought that his KRI colleagues around the country needed to get away from their offices and be immersed in new media strategy for a week.

The program is expected to run about four times a year, with enrollment limited to three executives at a time. The first day the program was announced, a dozen newspaper executives applied for the fellowships; today, more than 30 have applied to attend, according to Yarnold. The program is voluntary, but indications are that nearly every KRI paper would like to send one or several of its top people, he says.

The first week-long program takes place the week of March 23, with attendees King of the Inquirer, Sheri Dill, vice president of marketing for the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle, and John Luby, general manager of the Charlotte Observer. Already selected for the second class is David Lawrence, executive editor of the Miami Herald. Yarnold says Lawrence was excited about the program and begged to be included early on. "That's a big deal to get that kind of enthusiasm" from someone at his level, Yarnold says.

The program does not target just those KRI papers that are "behind the curve" in new media, but also aims to help those such as the Philadelphia Inquirer which already have substantial new media operations.

Time to go surfing

The program starts with tutorials for the three attendees, taught by various members of the Knight-Ridder New Media staff (which now numbers 38 employees, housed at a downtown San Jose office building). They also are allotted time to "surf" the Web, and the staff provides an in-depth evaluation of the executives' existing sites.

Yarnold plans to take the trio of executives on a tour of Silicon Valley, doing site visits with some of the companies that Knight-Ridder has partnered with, such as Zip2 (an online Yellow Pages directory and Internet publishing tools company) and Vxtreme (a streaming video technology company), where they will get an idea of the pace and intensity of the Valley's Internet technology sector. "And I'll probably drive them around (the Valley) a bit, just to give them a sense of place," Yarnold says.

The week will end with a de-briefing with Knight-Ridder New Media staff and KRI vice president of new media Bob Ingle.

Yarnold expects the program to be "a lot of work" for the participants, and it is a considerable commitment for the KR New Media staff in time and money. "But how can we afford not to do this?" he says. "I'm absolutely confident that this will pay dividends down the road. ... We absolutely have to get (KRI's) top executives engaged" in envisioning a new media future for their newspapers.

Contact: David Yarnold,

Clickshare, Side 2

My Friday column item about the dissolution of Clickshare and the friction among its founders drew this response from Felix Kramer, former Clickshare executive and company shareholder:

"In Friday's column, Bill Densmore disputes my statement that the company and its technology are now for sale. Densmore's view is not shared by Greg Rogers, Clickshare's immediate past Board Chair -- he's one of the commissioned agents who has been talking to potential purchasers. We've lost enough time to founderitis. If a buyer appears, the internal differences will not prevent the sale of the company. No one wants to be seen as the Internet's version of the stubborn mother in King Solomon's parable."

Contact: Felix Kramer,
Greg Rogers,

Movin' On

David Mill has joined Scotland On Line as director of publishing. Scotland On Line is a joint venture between Scottish Telecom and publishers D.C. Thomson. Mill previously was group online editor for the Mirror Group Newspapers in the U.K. and launched Ltd., an Internet site creation and consultancy company.

Hostages in Kashmir page links sought

David Mill also is behind a Web campaign to help free four Western hostages being held by rebels in Kashmir. Mill's company is hosting a Web site that offers up to date news on the hostages, who have been held for more than 600 days, and solicits e-mail messages in support of the effort to free the men, and financial support. Mill is asking Web news publishers to link to the site, at, in order that the hostage situation not be forgotten.

Contact: David Mill,

Click on this headline

One of the better articles I've seen about the online city guide business has been published on the Salon Web site. Entitled "Web Locally, Profit Globally," the piece is by San Francisco writer Tom McNichol. The headline above is a link to the story.


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This column is written by Steve Outing exclusively for Editor & Publisher Interactive three days a week. News, tips, and other communications may be sent to Mr. Outing at

The views expressed in the above column do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor & Publisher company


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