April 20, 2009

AnnArbor.com editor on panel to discuss newspapers

This item was first published on WiredJournalists.

Tony Dearing, content guru of the evolving AnnArbor.com, and three others involved with emerging journalism trends in Michigan, will talk about newspapers Tuesday at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant.

Dearing joins Lonnie Peppler-Moyer, past president of the Michigan Press Association and publisher of Monroe Evening News and Bedford Now; Laura Varon Brown, Audience editor and columnist for the Detroit Free Press and member of its digital transition team; and Mike MacLaren, executive director of the Michigan Press Association.

In a CMU Life article today, David Mrozinski quotes Dennis Jeffers , a journalism professor who will moderate the "Michigan's Newspaper Industry: Our Past, Present and Future" discussion, praising the panelists for being leaders in finding solutions to the problems of producing and publishing newspapers.
"The journalists on this panel will highlight what these solutions entail, as well as what the changes mean for Michigan citizens.
The university's journalism department and Clarke Historical Library are sponsoring the panel discussion from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Baber Room (room 109) of the Charles V. Park Library. The discussion ends with a reception and tour of Clarke Historical Library's current exhibit "Celebrating Two Centuries of Michigan Newspapers." (Same building)

Interesting mix of people involved with several evolving projects in Michigan's news industry so it could provoke an interesting discussion. Let's hope the students, or someone, records it for those of us who can't make it to the actual event.

Dearing, who graduated from CMU in 1979 and was editor of the student newspaper, has been back to CMU on panel discussions on ethics and other subjects. He's heading up the content side of AnnArbor.com, which is a new media outlet with a web site and print products starting sometime in July. The long-time Advance Publications employee been the editor of The Flint Journal and Bay City Times, worked at the Ann Arbor News.

Moyer's Monroe Evening News is employee-owned. In a recent article, the incoming president of Employee Stock Ownership Plan Association, talks how that ownership model affects grassroots innovation.

Yes, there have been layoffs. But there's also been new products and innovation, put together by employee task forces. There's FindMonroe.com and MPDesign, which creates web sites, and Monroe Talks. a community conversation place that buzzes. In fact, MonroeTalks was a case study for API's NewspaperNext project. See page 49.

Monroe Evening News's site also is one of the easiest ones to read. It separates the local and wire news out and makes it easy to scan quickly.

Brown also knows about change professionally - the former feature writer and editor is now audience editor and served on the digital transition team; she was the editor of Twist, a Sunday magazine about and for women, works on MomsLikeMe - and personally - losing a husband at age 28, seeing a daughter severely injured.
"That's the thing with change. Sometimes we ask for it, and sometimes we don't. But through all of it, it's important to set your sights on something worthy. Something good. Without that, and without a little kindness along the way, change is an impossible journey. Or an accident waiting to happen."
Brown has been at the Free Press since 1990. She was hired at the Detroit News by George Rorick as one of three word people for his graphics team. She has run the satellite Oakland County newsroom, been news editor for the Free Press and has been graphics director and director of the national children's newspaper, Yak's Corner.

MacLaren has been with the state press association since 1991. In an article on the closing of the Ann Arbor News, he called the closing a "tough and disappointing" decision that had to be made in a rapidly changing newspaper industry as people are "growing more accustomed to getting it (local news) in different ways."

He predicted the transformation from newspapers to Web-based news services could mean fewer news stories. He said the revenues and profitability newspapers enjoyed in the past allowed for the creation of news-gathering operations that exposed stories that served the public, and online publishing doesn't generate the same amount of revenues.

With diminished resources, MacLaren said, "The possibility exists for less coverage of some things that people looked to a newspaper to provide and cause some real problems for our society."

Wish I could be there Tuesday for the discussion.

Possible related posts:
Exhibit celebrates centuries of Michigan newspapers

Annarbor.com evolving
What's being said about Adance, Annarbor.com
Advance execs share outlook on TV


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