Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gannett retooling its news-gathering efforts

Gannett, the USA largest newspaper company, is making plans to roll out a nationwide initiative to gather and disseminate information across a multitude of media, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The McLean-based company has about 90 newspapers, including USA Today, the nation's largest daily paper. Like other newspaper companies, Gannett is losing readers and advertising revenue as folks turn to the Internet and other mediums to get their information.

Gannett executives are hoping to reverse that trend with their new initiative, dubbed the Information Center.

"The Information Center will let us gather the very local news and information that customers want, then distribute it when, where and how our customers seek it," Gannett Chairman, President and CEO Craig Dubow wrote in a letter to employees. Company officials provided the letter to Washington Business Journal.

Gannett executives say the Information Center concept transforms the process for providing news and information. The newsroom evolves into a place that's focused on gathering the information people want using words, images and video and then distributes it across multiple platforms from newspapers to Web sites to other non-print entities.

Gannett's newspaper division, which has conducted a series of pilot programs to create and test the Information Center concept, organized the center around seven key information-gathering areas: digital, public service, community conversation, local, custom content, data and multimedia.

"The Information Center, frankly, is the newsroom of the future," Dubow wrote. "It will fulfill today's needs for a more flexible, broader-based approach to the information gathering process."

To test the process, Gannett (NYSE: GCI) has implemented the Information Center on a full-scale pilot basis at three of its papers, and partially at other sites.

"What they found," Dubow wrote, "is remarkable: Breaking news on the Web and updating for the newspaper draws more people to both those media. Results include stronger newspapers, more popular Web sites and more opportunities to attract the customers advertisers want."

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