I’m continually amazed by the work Journal Register Company CEO John Paton is doing to transform JRC into a media company that will survive well into the 21st century. I devoted a post to him and have Tweeted about him so often, I’d be in danger of becoming president of his fan club if not for the even more frequent Tweeting from Jeff Jarvis, Jay Rosen and others.
Why are we all so enamored of John?
It’s simple. He believes in the digital future of the news. He believes that in the long-run, the Internet will be good for the news industry, good for the communities he serves and good for democracy.
It's called leadership.
As Simon Sinek says in his recent must-watch TED Talk, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Understanding this simple truth is how great leaders inspire action. If you communicate an authentic belief and readers share it, they will interact with your site for their own sake, because it feels right to do so.
The sad truth is, for most news organizations, “why” they are online has nothing to do with a belief in the power of this new medium.
At one time, news executives had a great "why". They sought to reflect, affect and connect the communities they serve. And it worked. Their newspapers became very successful. But somewhere along the way, the "why" changed. The focus shifted to making money. Lots of money.
As the world started to change around them, online became a necessary evil. But they’ve never really believed in the Internet, or understood it. Nor have they valued the its ability to enable community and collaboration.
If they did, they’d be a part of it. They’d be blogging and Twittering. They’d be putting the digital folks in charge of the newsroom. They’d be creating the Complete Community Connection. They’d be looking at the iPad as a new medium, (the fifth screen after movies, TV, computers and phones), and create something new instead using it to preserve the look and feel of print.
But they’re not. And that means they’re not doing their jobs.