Sunday, December 23, 2007

A newspaper launch

I'm back in the States with the family now for 10 days. I've been in England for the better part of five months now to help with the launch of Crain's Manchester Business, a weekly business newspaper, based in England's second-most important economic center.

My job has been to interview, hire and train the editorial staff as well as produce a prototype and then help launch the first edition. In that last role, I've been the deputy editor to the editor we hired. My work will be done at the end of January.

The first edition came out Dec. 17 with 15,000 mailed to a select list of business people and 5,000 sent to newsstands. The sample list will be converted to paid, 74 pounds, over a long period. Many of the newsstands had sold out by Dec. 21.

The effort has attracted a lot of attention, since news media are consolidating in Great Britain, just as in the US, and few are launching new print vehicles. The Financial Times weighed in with a piece on regional business media. It has been quite well received so far by local communications professionals.

The UK version of Editor and Publisher published an extensive piece as well.

The Crain's Manchester Business website also went live on December 17, and for the moment, all of the first edition's print content is available, save the lists and record copy, on the site. We've been posting 15-20 web stories a day to keep the pressure on the Manchester Evening News, the principal daily in the region.

After Crain's Manchester Business's editorial crew sent the paper to the printer Friday December 14, there was a small celebration at a pub called the Seven Oaks. This was followed by a visit to an Italian restaurant and then a rock concert. The latter, I decided, was not my cup of tea. When my rib cage and internal organs began vibrating in time with the bass of the legendary band, Happy Mondays, I decided it was time to leave. I prefer to listen to music in a different way.

What's next

I don't have much lined up, and honestly I haven't spent any time doing business development. What I do have is interesting. The US Embassy in Chile has invited me to do a week of seminars in Santiago and other cities in the spring. And I have another newsroom leadership training session for Latin American journalists later in the year. There are two other possibilities for newsroom coaching that could develop into something bigger.
Bolivia appears to be on the brink of civil war (it's closer to the brink than usual), so I don't see going back there any time soon.

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