Austin Beutner. LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce.
News industry analyst Ken Doctor likes the moves Austin Beutner has made at the Los Angeles Times, including the acquisition of U-T San Diego by Tribune Publishing. "As that deal moves to closing within a month, Beutner emerges as a regional news leader to be watched nationally….Most importantly, he offers a fresher strategic view of the role and the business of one-time monopoly print newspaper companies as they fully embrace the digital future." From Doctor's latest at Capital New York, based in part on a Monday interview with Beutner that covers several topics:
In nine months, he’s made key hires, finding like-minded people outside and inside the newspaper industry, to lead the operation. He’s launched a test newsletter, launched events and reached out to the many communities within greater L.A. His strategy will take three to five years to play out, and he frankly acknowledges that it’s unknowable which business models of what size will emerge from his community-engaging strategy.
“We have to own the conversation about where we live, our neighborhood, physical or digital, our community and how that community connects with other communities and the state, the nation and the world. The conversation starts at home. The foundation piece is where we work and live.”
The best model – so far – is the Times’ first significant email newsletter product, Essential California. 80,000 subscribers have signed up for the free daily briefing. It’s part of the new wave of two-way, niche-product thinking I wrote about in February (“Newsonomics: Mixing Old and News”), as the old “we publish one product, take-it-or-leave it” era ends.
Essential California now includes sponsored content, and opens the door to making money from the Times’ digital subs, from events and from the data collected about very specific “communities of interest.” Beutner is pleased with Essential California. Look for as many as 20 of these niche newsletters to launch, if the model shows continued promise, on topics as diverse as Hollywood, the Dodgers and “Emerging Us.”
Essential California is the morning aggregation of selected LA Times stories and a few from other sources, compiled by Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.