Friday, December 17, 2010

Walk In, Grab a Muffin and Watch a Newspaper Reinvent Itself

New York Times photo
Torrington, a city of 36,000 in northwestern Connecticut, pockmarked with abandoned mills, is not the first place that comes to mind as a brave outpost on the digital frontier.

Peter Applebome writing at, The Register Citizen, with roots dating to 1874 and a print circulation that’s fallen from 21,000 in the late 1980s to 8,000 now, isn’t an industry giant either. But when it moved Monday from its dilapidated 105-year-old home into a renovated factory space meant to embody a full-bore embrace of the Internet, it provided one metaphor for how journalism is trying to reinvent itself. If Torrington seems an unlikely locale, well, that’s the point.

“That’s exactly why I picked it,” said John Paton, chief executive of the Journal Register Company, which owns more than 300 print and online products in 10 states, including 18 daily newspapers. “If I can paraphrase Frank Sinatra, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

Mr. Paton has become a hero to new-media gurus by taking a newspaper company emerging from bankruptcy and turning it into a company militantly focused on the Internet, with its philosophy of digital first, print last.

The Register Citizen has six times the readership online that it has in print, and its new building is designed to mirror the open, collaborative culture of the Web. The business plan is based on making The Register Citizen’s Web site a magnet for all things local and thus an attractive place for advertisers, sponsors and others who can replace declining newspaper subscribers and advertisers.

Read more here.

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