Journal Register’s Brady Hire

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John Paton
John Paton

The single-best deal, assertion, investment or other strategy of the week.

Who: John Paton and the Journal Register Company

Why: Because they made up their own minds about TBD’s demise – that Allbritton simply gave up too early – and hired its founder and general manager Jim Brady to head up “digital transformation” in a project called “Project Thunderdome.” There’s often a significant waiting period before a fired figure’s taint wears off. Journal Register didn’t need it.

Jim has a deep understanding of how the audience both creates and consumes news and information in the digital world. The debate of bloggers vs. journalists or citizen journalists vs. professionals is now over. The new business models of news demand we understand and incorporate both. Jim has been at the very forefront of that debate and is a leader in implementing solutions. John Paton, March 29, 2011

“Digital transformation” is a silly title but its intention is in the right place, and if Brady knows anything, it’s about evolving properties online. He helped build the Washington Post’s website into a viable standalone Web entity, and he oversaw many changes at AOL.

But the move says more about the daily newspaper publisher, which has kept up a drumbeat of digital change since Paton joined the company in early 2010 after emerging from bankruptcy. At the end of his first year, Paton reported that the company had gone from logging few online ad orders ever to about 1,000 month and about 1,000 video streams per month, not something a typical newspaper company does.

A lot of silly terms being thrown around — is “Mad Max” next? — but we think Paton’s on to something with the Journal Register and will continue to watch them as a potential model for other newspaper companies looking to make hyperlocal part of their strategy.

What do you think — will Brady make a difference for Journal Register? Post your view in the comments.

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