AJC 2.0

As traumatic as it’s been for the AJC in the last 18 months— including a sizable, ongoing round of staff reductions and layoffs— it seems there’s more to come. The AJC has been targeting February 2009 as the launch of what it calls AJC 2.0. The date coincides with the use of a new printing press.

AJC 2.0 will include a major redesign of the “dead tree” version of the newspaper, as well as the AJC’s web site. It may also involve elimination or radical redesigns of some sections. The Sunday editorial section known as “@Issue” seems especially endangered, according to editor Julia Wallace as interviewed by Ken Edelstein of Creative Loafing.

“Basically what we heard is people want us to be a newspaper. They want it very newsy. They have a high expectation on watchdog news. They want us to be local. They want that national and international mix, so they can go to one place and be efficient about it but they depend on us for local news and expect that… They want good pacing. They want short. They want long. But they want to make sure that if it’s long, it’s worth it. They want differing forms. They want Q & As and pros and cons. … It’s a redesign that we’ve worked with a designer out of Montreal on that is very focused on making it easy to navigate and find what you want, and it’s gotten rave reviews.”

Wallace’s semi-incoherence shows how dangerous it is for news managers to try to make sense of audience research.

In the interview, Wallace suggests that the AJC will fixate on its Sunday newspaper, with promotion of the weekday papers de-emphasized. She also claims that ajc.com is metro Atlanta’s most-visited website. The question will continue to be: How to make it a moneymaker.

We’re already irritated with the AJC’s reorganization and belt-tightening. We’re irritated with its per-issue price increase for a product that’s in steady decline. In the interview with Edelstein, Wallace implies that the AJC may devote fewer resources to long-term investigative projects. That would be unwelcome.

We’re also irritated to read that the AJC is sending Jennifer Brett, “the social butterfly,” to Beijing to cover Atlanta residents (including, we suspect, a few of the publisher’s rich friends) attending the Olympics. “I am purely going for the partying, not the sports!” sputters a lawyer quoted in Brett’s column this morning. This, from a newspaper that couldn’t trouble itself to cover the presidential primaries outside of Georgia.

We’d like to see the February redesign be more than window dressing. We’re not optimistic that will happen.

This entry was posted in AJC, Creative Loafing on by .

About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

8 thoughts on “AJC 2.0

  1. rptrcub

    If they want to save money, forget sending Brett over there. Let those people who want to be part of a social column send their tidbits back home via e-mail. This isn’t some small town newspaper in BFE.

  2. Pingback: Atlanta blogs today | Fresh Loaf

  3. Edward

    Why should the local newspaper be any different than the local tv broadcast “news” organizations. Or much of the national, for that matter. If the masses really want NEWS, then why are we being told that everyone just wants fluff?

    Thank heavens for BBC and NPR and News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

  4. Mike Klimis

    I still can’t get past this… “Basically what we heard is people want us to be a newspaper. They want it very newsy.” Is that a fact? “Newsy”, you say? I’ve never heard of such a preposterous thing! A newspaper being “newsy”, or being news-oriented in any way! It’s a little crazy, but I think it might work! Where exactly did he do this research? The Center for the Painfully Obvious located on 1234 Street Street in Townville? HAHAHA! I’m hilarious! Honestly though, that quote is amazing. Also, partying in Beijing is kinda funny too. I can agree, because you know, the one place in the world we all can let our freak flags fly is definitely the People’s Republic of China.

  5. Brad Clontz

    From AJC PeachBuzz, August 10, 2008:

    Last night we caught up with Atlanta hip-hop icons Jermaine Dupri and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges at the News Corporation/RJ Reynolds Player’s Olympics, held in the just-opened Beijing Four Seasons Hotel. When asked, Dupri was tight-lipped about his plans to expand his rap empire to the Orient, but fellow traveller Usher said Dupri dropped plenty of hints throughout the night.

    Also spotted were the heads of Cox Media, which also publishes this newspaper. Said co-owner Beulah Pittypat Cox after downing an aperitif, “Why pay the salaries of an entire newsroom when eager Chinese youngsters will provide the same product for four cents an hour?” Why, indeed!

    Elsewhere in the ballroom, fellow Dirty South power-broker S. Truett Cathy was spotted handing a wad of crisp hundred-dollar bills to a Chinese health official. When pressed, Cathy would only say this: “Chinese people like fried chicken, too.” Drop it like it’s hot, ATL!

  6. spaceyg

    Keep Brett. (She very nicely profiled yet another dubious web-based project of mine.) Get rid of Wallace and things would start to approach reality around there. Maybe. So many Cox suits to support; so little traditional revenue streams left. Thank God for used cars I suppose.


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