In with the new

It’s fascinating reading on the valedictory address of the retiring editor of the Plain Dealer, Doug Clifton, contrasted with the welcoming podcast of his successor, Susan Goldberg (ex of the San Jose Mercury News).

Clilfton laments the challenges to newspapers posed by new media and business realities:

f readers abandon conventional newspapers and go to the Internet, advertisers will be forced to look for other media – the Internet included – to present their messages.

Newspapers will survive if readers pay them for their Web content or if advertisers flock to newspaper Web sites in sufficient numbers to offset the revenue lost to the ink-on-paper enterprise. One or both of those options is likely to happen.

If they don’t, newspapers – and the journalism they produce – could die.

And why will that be worth your tears? Because without journalism, democracy and civil society will falter.

But the internet provides wonderful new opportunities to expand journalism. Change can be good. It certainly is necessary.

Now see Goldberg’s practical and forward-looking attitude toward change:

On coping with layoffs and cost-cutting: “As painful as any kind of cutting can be, the upside is that it does force you to focus on your priorities. … You really need to think long and hard about what makes you special in your marketplace. In San Jose, one of the things that made us special was our technology coverage. So, if that’s at the top of the heap, than maybe something else falls off the bottom so you can keep doing technology coverage incredibly well. So in Cleveland, perhaps that would be coverage of the growth industry here — the medical industry.”

On her management style: “I don’t have any problem with dissenting views. But what I always have the most trouble with is — I could summarize it by saying, ‘whiny people who live in the past.’ They drive me crazy. Because, there’s nothing we can do about the massive changes in our industry…. Just whining and moaning about the way it used to be will not solve anything…. I find as time goes on and our problems become more and more apparent, and our need to change becomes more and more apparent, my patience for ‘whiny people who live in the past’ becomes shorter.” . . .

On the future of newspapers: “We’re becoming a 24-hour-a-day, platform-agnostic information industry.”