Panel promotes innovation across platforms, not just digital products

This morning Jeff Goertzen of The Orange County Register, Carolyn Washburn of The Enquirer and Cincinnati.com, and George Frederick of Advance Digital Inc. presented “Unique Visions in the Changing Media Landscape,” a session about the importance of innovation across platforms in a time of change.

Here are five key takeaways from their talk:

1. “Innovation is not just about digital.”

Washburn discussed how even with so many technological advances in the hands of journalists, traditional platforms can be reworked to express innovation. By rethinking the print experience, The Enquirer was able to engage readers in a new way. Both dramatic and subtle changes can make a difference. “Innovation is not only the homerun, innovation is not only the big breakthrough,” said Washburn.

2. Readers like sequential stories

In other words, “Readers don’t like jumps,” according to Washburn. By encouraging a sequential reading experience, the new Enquirer gives readers an experience that is fluid and in order. The Enquirer only allows jumps to a facing page, so readers do not have to turn the page to continue a story. Headlines become more important, which encourages a partnership between designers, editors and writers in the newsroom.

3. Immerse yourself in the local community

Engage with the readers in order to connect with them via print. Goertzen reflected on how he rarely had national news on the Orange County Register’s front page, and photos of residents were featured. The Register offers sections to college students and specific groups in the community in order to engage their audience.

4. Believe in your product

When The Orange County Register faced the threat to print journalism, it invested in itself by keeping a large staff and reworking their products. “You have to invest in it,” said Goertzen. “You have to put in money.”

5. Challenges can be opportunities

With the change from strictly print to a digital world, challenges in content management and logistics arise. “The things that we thought were obstacles became opportunities,” said Frederick. Challenges in the shift in editorial process include communication, culture, institutional roles, content evolution and value proposition. These challenges give journalists the opportunity to think about how they can be better and work more efficiently.