Morris Communications restructures newspaper group to focus on digital publishing

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Morris Communications Co. has restructured its newspaper group in an effort to implement a digital-first publishing strategy.

The Augusta-based firm changed some of its own senior leadership, along with leadership at subsidiary Morris Publishing Group, incorporating key people at its digital support group, Morris DigitalWorks. Morris Publishing Group publishes The Augusta Chronicle and other newspapers and periodicals.

“We are transforming ourselves into a 21st Century media company,” said William S. Morris III, the chairman of Morris Communications. “The people and businesses we serve are moving quickly from print to digital, and we are determined to keep leading the way in meeting their needs in all the markets we serve.”

The president of Morris Dig­italWorks since its origin in 1996, Michael Romaner, will become the executive vice president of digital at Morris Communications.

Romaner will provide digital strategy and leadership for the company’s media enterprises, including magazines, books, radio stations, newspapers and visitor publications.

At Morris Publishing Group, Mark Lane, who was the vice president of sales at The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla., will become the new vice president of sales. And Robert Gilbert is the new vice president of audience. He was formerly vice president of audience development at Morris DigitalWorks.

“Our newspaper company has a long tradition of digital excellence, and these changes will propel our transformation much more rapidly,” said William S. Morris IV,the president of the publishing group.

Derek May, the executive vice president of Morris Publishing, said “digital-first” is a strategy to get content to readers in the formats that they want, such as tablet computers and smartphones. It is also about the speed of reporting.

“When we break stories, we break them first on digital platforms and then, later on, summarized in print. We’ve been doing that awhile, but we’re going to emphasize that further,” May said. “This is not the elimination of the printed newspaper. We believe it is going to be around a long time.”

The strategy will also be a way to help businesses advertise digitally. May said advertising was once easier to understand by business owners because the choices were predominantly newspapers, radio and television. The digital revolution has added more platforms for businesses. In Jacksonville, the company held a workshop for business owners.

Other digital-first strategies involve the iPad editions being produced daily by The Chronicle and newspapers in Savannah, Ga., and Lubbock, Texas, which will be rolled out across the country. Multiple newspapers are also publishing to Apple iPhones and Android-based smartphones.

“Integrating MDW’s skilled personnel into the newspaper group will help to speed its digital transformation from the inside,” Romaner said.

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woodymeister
247
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woodymeister 10/12/11 - 04:01 pm
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I hope the digital publishing

I hope the digital publishing is a winner for the Chronicle. The "new and improved" version of the printed paper that I received yesterday is a joke. Since you reduced the size of the paper and thus reduced your cost of producing a single paper, do you plan on passing along any of that savings to your loyal customers? I doubt it.

Alan English
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Alan English 10/12/11 - 05:12 pm
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Thanks for the feedback,

Thanks for the feedback, woodymeister. The 1½ inch trim to the page width is meant to save money and reinvest in the future of local journalism.
You have the honor of being the second to register a complaint about that change in two days. To our pleasant surprise, we had a run of positive calls yesterday and today from people who found the new size more convenient.
That said, we do want to hear what suggestions you and others may have. Here is a link to the announcement prior to the cutdown for review: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2011-10-08/augusta-chronicle-tri...

dougk
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dougk 10/12/11 - 06:25 pm
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I like the new size...more
Unpublished

I like the new size...more manageable with my first cup of coffee at 5-5:30 in the a.m.. Now, if Sean Moores could only figure out why my posts here only appear to me.

dorisday
0
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dorisday 10/12/11 - 07:39 pm
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Although at first I felt like

Although at first I felt like I was reading the weekly tabloid, I have to say I like the new size.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 10/12/11 - 08:00 pm
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The Augusta Chronicle's far

The Augusta Chronicle's far right wing extremist editorial policy is a huge impediment to this newspaper's economic future. That is a shame because The Chronicle could be a newspaper that all denizens of the CSRA and beyond want to subscribe to whether in digital form or print. If this newspaper developed a balanced editorial policy I would subscribe. Since it does not and seemingly never will because the owner prefers the Chronicle's editorial staff to reflect his personal, highly partisan, reactionary views, I will never subscribe to this anachronistic vestige of yellow journalism.

woodymeister
247
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woodymeister 10/12/11 - 09:57 pm
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Alan, thank you for your

Alan, thank you for your response. As it is obvious that the move was made to save money that can be reinvested in the future of local journalism, would it possible to breakdown the cost associated with printing a newspaper? In general terms, what are the high cost components of the operation? What are the top three? My guess would be manpower (news staff and pressroom), ink and other chemicals, maintenance, or delivery. I'm sure paper is in there as well. Revenue, however, comes from advertising not circulation. So why not model yourselves after papers in other cities, or better yet here in town. The Metro Spirit, which is likely printed on your presses, is free to anyone who will read it...and contains far less useful information. So how do they stay in business? Advertising dollars not circulation. Please don't try to convince me or your readers that you are solely reinvesting in the future of local journalism. To invest in the future perhaps consider presenting it in functional and affordable ways. When was the last price increase for a subscription to the Chronicle? Within the last few months? Monthly subscription price increased by $2/month within the last quarter. Now I get to pay more for less.

Vito45
-2
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Vito45 10/13/11 - 12:36 am
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joeuser, you come across as

joeuser, you come across as just sour grapes. Like it or not, the AC is the main news organ in the area and people don't mind paying a nominal charge to access that news. Heck, for the entertainment value alone the online subscription fee is worth it to me.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 10/13/11 - 06:18 am
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I'm going to have to agree

I'm going to have to agree with Vito, again. Come on joesuser, what's with all the AC bashing, are you going to produce the paper if they retire their presses?

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 10/13/11 - 06:57 am
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Hey! None of the buttons on

Hey! None of the buttons on the left side of my Kindle work.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 10/13/11 - 07:37 am
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Dougk, you are still not

Dougk, you are still not showing up. I sent Sean an email, have you asked him about it? I am keeping up from your profile.

csrareader
1287
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csrareader 10/13/11 - 08:37 am
0
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First reaction to the new

First reaction to the new paper size was not good, but "upon further review," it's not bad. It works well, and if it helps save money, it's the smart approach. Keep up the good reporting, and everything will be fine.

IsAnyoneAlwaysRight
40
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IsAnyoneAlwaysRight 10/13/11 - 12:53 pm
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The question I have is above

The question I have is above Mr. English's pay grade and one which many Morris employees probably have. Management states Digital is FIRST. Does management have a SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, etc.....concern, plan or strategy?

Jake
32513
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Jake 10/13/11 - 02:57 pm
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If shrinking the width down 1

If shrinking the width down 1 1/2" is such a huge savings, then why not shrink it down even more? I think the width of toilet paper should just about do it. Then when you are done reading, well, you can figure it out.

Little Lamb
45859
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Little Lamb 10/13/11 - 03:11 pm
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Yeah, but if it were

Yeah, but if it were toilet-paper width it wouldn't be as good for wrapping fish heads and guts.

woodymeister
247
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woodymeister 10/13/11 - 05:17 pm
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So I pay $2 more per month

So I pay $2 more per month for my paper, yet I get less product. Why can't we all get some of our money back? Oh yeah....it is reivested in the future of local journalism.

commonsense-is-endangere
43
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commonsense-is-endangere 10/13/11 - 07:09 pm
0
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It's only words, and so far,

It's only words, and so far, words have had little impact.
"The less you intend on doing something about a problem
the more you end up talking about it"

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