September 7, 2011

Journal Register Co.
Journal Register Co. announced Wednesday that it is creating a company called Digital First Media Inc. to manage it and MediaNewsGroup. John Paton will be CEO of Digital First and will act as CEO of MediaNews and Journal Register Co. Paton said in the news release that the change will accelerate the transition “from what have largely been print-centric businesses to modern, multi-platform media companies focused on local news and advertising.” Paton writes in a blog post, “If our dailies continue on the trend they are on right now, by the end of the year they will have brought in more digital revenue than the costs of running their newsrooms. Digital revenues can pay for newspaper newsrooms.”

When Rick Edmonds, Poynter’s business analyst, wrote in July about Alden Global Capital’s investments in newspaper companies, he made this “wild guess” :

Watch for the MediaNews CEO search to end with Journal Register CEO John Paton (whose experience includes investment banking). Paton has transformed Journal Register to digital first, and that aligns with MediaNews’ likely direction. Journal Register and Media News can be merged — perhaps with Freedom too, if the Alden guys can figure out a fair price to pay themselves.

Josh Benton at Nieman Lab predicts that this “merger without merging” could portend further consolidation. “In a few years, we might be looking back on today’s announcement as the beginning of a wave that radically changed the U.S. newspaper industry.”

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Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens,…
Steve Myers

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