by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : November 2011
CHALLENGE newspaper execu- tives on the importance of culture, and they get prickly. When leading newspaper pundit Earl Wilkinson suggested this was the major challenge for overcoming the tumult caused by new digital business models, he got emails and conversations of rebuke. The message was simple: strat- egy is important, but don’t get side- tracked on the culture stuff. Yet, culture executes strategy. Mr Wilkinson, head of the In- ternational Newsmedia Marketers’ Association, says newspapers “are finding they don’t have the right people”. “They’ve got the strategy, they’ve got the organisation for multimedia, but they don’t have the people. That’s quite a ‘discover’ at the last minute.” Mr Wilkinson’s emphasis on cul- ture has influential supporters in the local industry. They are our culture warriors – executives who see the reality of industry threat and the need to transform to a mix of print and digital platforms. “If you have a strategy that isn’t backed with the right culture you can’t execute it, and if you have a culture with no strategy you’re kind of aimless,” says Jack Matthews, who heads the Metro Media division of Fairfax Media, based in Sydney. “Culture is not a warm and fuzzy thing, culture is a very pragmatic thing that has direct impact on the quality of people you can get, and the performance you can get out of people,” he says. Giving staff a voice has been pow- erful, he says. Under Mr Matthews, Fairfax’s digital staff have given management a performance review every six months. “That’s incredibly empowering to our staff,” says Mr Matthews. “They know that if a manager at Fairfax Digital got consistently bad scores on an employee survey, that person wouldn’t be a manager any- more,” he said. Two have felt the edge of this sword. Mr Matthews says he has experi- mented with the ideas of others, such as Google’s well-known practice of giving staff a day a week to follow their own innovative projects. It might work for Google but it can be a wasteful cliché. “We tried the idea [in the digital team] but we just didn’t get the out- put,” he recalls. Traditional companies, such as newspapers, must recognise culture is “vitally important” to their suc- cess, he adds. Executives of similar determina- tion are found in regional opera- tions, too. Sylvia Bradshaw admits she has zero-tolerance for laggards. She’s been known to tell colleagues to cheer up or find the exit at the Gold Coast Bulletin in Queensland. “Every subscription is sacred,” she declares, betraying a long trait in newspapers of concern for circu- lation numbers but not individual customers, or readers. The results have been immediate – her flagship newspaper has added 900 new six-day readers. “What we’ve got here is a tough, dynamic workforce with no illusions about the state of the market and [now] a crystal clear idea of how we can help,” she says. News Limited colleague Mel Mansell, editor of The Advertiser in Adelaide, has made a global impres- sion with his newsroom revolution to make it more responsive to the demands of digital publishing. Mr Mansell says culture change is based on an honest flow of informa- tion. Economy of the truth is not tolerated, and personal leadership, not memos, is vital in this process. “Where traditionally [a newspaper] just runs from the editor’s office, now all the journalists sit at a table in the middle of the floor. All the conferences are there; we have impromptu meetings. “It is something I should have done five years ago.” KPMG consultant Malcolm Alder says resistance to change is break- ing down thanks to the influence of Mr Matthews and others like him. “They’re in the right headspace to tackle the digital future,” says Mr Al- der, who specialises in media. “There was some reticence or resistance two or three years ago – and that’s gone now,” he told The Bulletin. True culture change comes from the top. “In any change of scale, a large part of change is driven by the be- haviour from the top,” he adds. Fairfax NZ’s executive editor, Paul Thompson, illustrated this when he launched an internal Content First campaign last year. He focused on the big papers, such as the Dominion Post, but the behaviour change trickled down, says Fairfax’s general manager for Digital Media, Nigel Tutt, who is this year’s recipient of PANPA’s execu- tive scholarship. He will use the scholarship bursary to see how companies in Silicon Val- ley operate. “I want to look at data in decision-making and in customer relationship management,” he says. “We have so much data, and culture is something that binds that together,” he said. Earl Wilkinson, who spends his life visiting INMA members around the world to seek their insight, believes publishers must now integrate their operations and demand new skills. “We need reporters and editors who are comfortable working across multiple platforms,” he says. “We need salespeople who can sell print and digital and know the nuances of both. “We need audience metrics that cross platforms. “Some executives will be asked to balance the worlds of print and dig- ital, and some will be asked to look only at digital.” Fairfax’s Jack Matthews agrees. “Where the digital culture is re- lentlessly commercial, the newspa- per is more around editorial purity, and finding ways to ensure you get the commercial element without compromising the core principle of editorial independence,” he says. “In the end, it’s about people understanding the strategy and what needs to be done, and understand- ing how culture needs to change in order to accomplish that.” www.panpa.org.au The PANPA Bulletin | NOVEMBER 2011 | 9 culture Warriors SoPHiE tArr speaks to executives who are truly transforming attitudes and belief for a digital future “What we’ve got here is a tough, dynamic workforce with no illusions about the state of the market on the coast and a crystal clear idea of how we can help” “the fact of the matter is, restructuring my newsroom is something i should have done five years ago – when we were still more of a newspaper than a digital operation” MElVin MAnSEll, tHE AdVErtiSEr SYlViA BrAdSHAW, Gold coASt BUllEtin JAcK MAttHEWS, FAirFAX MEtro MEdiA EArl WilKinSon, intErnAtionAl nEWSMEdiA MArKEtErS’ ASSociAtion “culture is the foundation for a growth story moving forward. Publishers in this region ‘get’ this at a dnA level” “culture is not a warm and fuzzy thing, culture is a very pragmatic thing that has direct impact on the quality of people you can get and the performance you can get out of people” Figure out the strategy first but know • what needs to change culturally if it is to work Failing is OK, but do it quickly • Top-down management need • bottom-up feedback Seek an outsider’s view – they can • see what you cannot Own your situation. No excuses. Don’t • reason away the challenge Look beyond your immediate indus- • try for talent, ideas and inspiration tips from the top A CAVALCADE of stars are about to walk on stage and let loose on the British tabloids. Actors Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant, plus Harry Potter author JK Rowling and former footballer Paul Gascoigne, are among more than 40 witnesses for the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking, press regulation and media standards. Former Labour deputy leader John Prescott and a family representative of murdered teenager Milly Dowling will give evidence. The inquiry, expected to last up to a year, will now start “before the second week in November”, Justice Leveson said. Journalists will be able to submit an anonymous affidavit of evidence through a firm of solicitors. Justice Leveson also wants key jour- nalists, including ex-News of the World undercover reporter Mazher Mah- mood, to give evidence on the working conditions at his former paper. Former editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, has called the inquiry “ludicrous”, labelling it as an attempt by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to sidestep poor personal judgment in hiring former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, now considered a key figure in the phone hacking scandal. Now Mr Cameron wanted to de- flect criticism, he said. Paul Dacre editor-in-chief of Asso- ciated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, was also critical. He said it had responded to the scandal by setting up “a judicial in- quiry with more powers” than the UK inquiry into the Iraq war. “Am I alone in detecting the rank smell of hypocrisy and revenge in the political class’s current moral indigna- tion over a British press that dared to expose their greed and corruption – the same political class, incidentally, that, until a few weeks ago, had spent years indulging in sickening genuflec- tion to the Murdoch press,” he said. Mr Dacre, who also heads the Brit- ish Press Complaints Commission, said the body did good work and that introducing fines for wayward jour- nalists would be counterproductive. He went on: “Self-regulation, I would argue, is at the very heart of a free press.” Stars to parade at press inquiry Sienna Miller . . . to give evidence