Latest media union signals a rise in digital acceptance

The Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group newspaper chains agreed to come together under one executive management company, Digital First Media, that will pursue a "digital first, print second" strategy.

In the news
The Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group newspaper chains agreed to come together under one executive management company, Digital First Media, that will pursue a "digital first, print second" strategy.

Why does it matter?
This is a sign publishers are gaining comfort with the notion that their brands can thrive online. As Digital First Media CEO John Paton claims, "Digital dimes can replace print dollars."

Ryan Thornburg, online media expert and associate professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, says this is about much more than simply newspaper business models.

"The new generation of journalists entering newsrooms already understands that journalism is a process and not a product," he explains. "The best newspaper journalists will be figuring out ways to integrate the reporting and distribution process into one by always talking about the stories they're working on and engaging the community in conversation."

For now, PR seems well ahead of the curve. "We live in a world where we consider all papers online entities," says Jim Dowd, GolinHarris' national media relations executive director.

"The dialog a journalist has with his or her audience about a piece has become part of the story and part of our response," he adds. "Monitoring and assessing these conversations can be key in helping us change our strategies on the fly."

Key facts
1. Uniting the Journal Register's 18 dailies with MediaNews Group's 56 papers creates a digital news platform with 57 million-plus daily readers in 18 states

2. US newspaper ad revenue fell 46% between 2006 and 2010 to $22.8 billion annually, found the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

3. The Journal Register is owned by the New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which also acquired a large, non-controlling stake in MediaNews last year.

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