The Death of the News
Their ambitious company, AnnArbor.com, will bring together news, blogs, reader-created content, community interest areas, social networking, various forms of advertising, and other features still to be defined. Yet it is expected to employ less than one-fourth the staff of the News. And its three leaders have never worked for a web organization.
At a forum at Concordia University, Matt Kraner, the chief executive officer of AnnArbor.com, sports a web-savvy look with his goatee, pompadour hairstyle, and shirt without a tie. A former chief marketing officer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he uses the terms "sustainable business model" and "generate value for advertisers" many times. The new company, he says, will be "a smaller and more nimble organization than the daily newspaper.
"There will be journalism in AnnArbor.com, but we're going to take that a step beyond," says Kraner. Ann Arbor residents themselves, he says, will serve as "aggregators and curators" of online information-they'll be editors and producers as well as readers.
Next up is Tony Dearing, a journalistic veteran who has recently served as the editor of the Bay City Times and the Flint Journal. In a pinstripe suit and white shirt and tie, he looks more like he's talking to bankers than to potential Ann Arbor readers and bloggers. He promises "local, local, local" coverage - local journalists covering police, government, and schools and writing commentary and blogs. "What kinds of things do you need us to be a resource for?" Dearing asks the twenty or so people in attendance. "We want to hear."