Post ombudsman explains column on innovation

PressThink
Post Ombudsman Patrick Pexton, who recently wrote that the newspaper is trying to innovate too fast, explains his thinking to Jay Rosen:

I don’t mind experimentation to see what works and what does not. That’s admirable. I just think there’s a bit too little thought to the kind of innovation that is being done and for what purpose.

I had a conversation with an editor this week, who attended a story planning meeting, and the editor said that three fourths of the discussion was on what kind of videos, photo galleries, and online polls to do and almost no discussion of the story’s written focus and direction. It’s all distracting. Some of it is absolutely necessary, but I think a bit more focus on the reporting first, then come in with the add ons later.

Later in the interview, Pexton says the Post has to be careful about focusing on the Web at the cost of print:

To keep this a solid regional newspaper, where a lot of revenue still is and will remain, the Post I think has to cover local news better. If a Web innovation adds another million unique visitors per month, but that’s done at the expense of five fewer local reporters, then the net effect on the Post’s revenue, for now, is negative.

Pexton tells Rosen that he doesn’t believe “the fundamentals of journalism have changed that much, despite social media,” which Rosen challenges and is sure to revive familiar arguments about how and whether the Web has reshaped the relationship between journalists and “the people formerly known as the audience,” to borrow Rosen’s term. || Related: The Post’s Raju Narisetti responds to Pexton’s column by saying, ”I actually wish it were true that we have too much innovation at the Post.” | The question for the Post isn’t whether to innovate, but how (Hatchomatic) | Take it from former editors: Newspapers need bolder change (Editor’s Note)

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