Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A worthy innovation

At VCU’s Mass Comm Week I got a chance to get an inside look from the industry people. The fears attached to the job market in media (and elsewhere) are omnipresent, but overall the opportunities for fresh-out-of-college journalists are still plenty.

At one of the events Phil Hillard (on left) and Michael Terpak spoke on “Innovations for the newspaper business”. Hillard and Terpark recently graduated from VCU and currently are part of a young team in Media General’s publishing department. Their job involves using new technology to generate new areas of revenues.

According to the duo, coming up with innovative ideas to attract more business for publishing is not the only challenge. It’s tough hanging in there with the kind of bureaucracy involved in big companies like theirs. They felt that even though they were hired to bring in a fresh perceptive in publishing, the top management on most occasions wasn’t open to new ideas.

But one of their successes has been the classifieds for Tampa Tribune website. They enabled small businesses to come online and advertised their products and services with the freedom of choosing their own design and content. It helped the businesses in advertising for much less compared to the newspaper.

They are currently working on a, a website for individual and pre-packaged day trips. It provides travel businesses an online presence, a chance to advertise and different tools to connect with their customers. Again the pitch wasn’t easy for them. Firstly the top-level suits didn’t understand the concept. Their Interactive department saw this as a potential threat since this would take their business away.

I guess with the bad economy and deteriorating newspaper business such innovations can help save the newspapers for being extinct. Unaffiliated media and better technology are somewhere responsible the decline of newspapers and publishing media. But here’s a chance to use that very technology to bring a new and improved face of newspapers.
Here's what Phil Hillard and Michael Terpak predict.

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