Saturday, January 1, 2011

New publisher represents big opportunity for change

We learn today that the rumors have been true, Kit Atwell is retiring, and Kelly Soldwedel is replacing her at the top of the masthead. It will be fascinating to see whether this makes any difference in the paper.

On a newspaper, the publisher is the cheese. She makes the big business decisions on behalf of the financial interests who pocket the dividends. She's the strategist for the future and crisis manager for the present. The editors create the product, but the publisher tells them what sort of product it has to be.

From the announcement in the paper it's clear Ms Soldwedel didn't reach this position by climbing the experience ladder. She's all of seven and a half years out of college, and made general manager in four. The paper seems proud that she's only running the company because her progenitors did. I hope she's got enough pride in herself to overcome her elevation-as-inheritance. The paper needs it.

Any attentive reader can see pretty quickly that the Courier desperately needs new blood and real-world experience to blow the cobwebs out of its congested, incestuous culture and make the changes necessary to survive and thrive in a radically changing media environment. Our community needs a vibrant, engaged and muscular Courier.

I challenge Ms Soldwedel to seek out and learn from her more worldly peers, eschew flabby tradition, embrace community service first, kick out the dead wood and push the paper bodily into the 21st century. There is no other hope for its future.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I should interpret this as an early warning of things to come, but I noticed that the "Reader Comments" feature that would normally have been attached to the announcement of Ms. Soldwedel's advancement had been disabled. Maybe she wasn't ready to get her feet wet as a public figure. I can think of a few others who would like to have that priviledge extended to them! Oh well, "keep blogging in the free world."

Steven Ayres said...

Oh, that's brilliant. Thanks for the tip!

coyoteradiotheater said...

I remember Kelly when she came to PNI and was doing photography. Regardless of her family's ownership of print media in Yavapai County, etc. she was always a great person to talk with. I wish her well in the challengin' task of making the Daily Courier relevant in post-Aughts. Maybe she'll pull a Truman and surprise 'em all when she gets the reins? I hope so.

Anonymous said...

I notice the promotion story in today's biz section on Kelly's bro, also doesn't allow people to post comments. Even if the courier had zero intentions, it still sends the wrong message.