Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Than Just Talk

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Than Just Talk

Article excerpt

In donning his third hat, Gregory Favre, incoming president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, promises that the organization will do more than just talk about the challenges to the newspaper business.

Weeks before he was scheduled to take office, during the ASNE conference in Washington next week, Favre, executive editor of the Sacramento Bee and vice president for news of McClatchy Newspapers, set up committees to address the issues.

One group, headed by Chris Anderson of the Orange County Register, will tackle "New Media and Values:' determining how newspapers can retain their traditional values in the face of exploding new technology. The other, chaired by Tim McGuire of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, simply is labeled the "Change" committee and will' Favre said, examine "all different changes in our newsroom and among our readers."

"And, of course, we will continue our strong commitment to diversity and freedom of expression," he said in an interview.

Favre, who grew up in the newspaper business - his father and mother published the Sea Coast Echo, Bay St. Louis, Miss. - declared that he is bullish on the industry but noted that it is changing rapidly and "we will change along with it."

"Today, in our business, there is need for imagination and change as there never has been before," he observed. "Too many people in our business haven't progressed beyond dinosaur responses and, like those early beasts, deal in movements that are coarse rather than precise. Dinosaurs are extinct and the thoughtful mammals have taken over, and that's what we have to be."

Favre urged newspaper managers to not be afraid of change and to take dramatic steps to keep up with a rapidly shifting society.

"Too often, we look for formulas and try our best not to be different even if being different works," he said. "Too often, we cheat our readers on a daily basis by not helping them explore, enjoy and participate in an ever-changing world. Our readers aren't afraid of change. New jobs, marriage, divorce, children, new homes are very much part of their everyday living. We have to make reading joyful again and pay more attention to the quality of our work."

Although the new technology has become entwined permanently with journalism, there sometimes is a tendency to overlook the fact that the newspaper's primary job is disseminating news and information, Favre said.

"Some of us in our rush to fall in love with all of the new technology forget that fact," he added. …

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