NAME: JIM BRADY
TITLE: CEO SPIRITED MEDIA
Q: Tell us about an initiative you have either launched or are planning to launch that has or will have a positive impact on your company’s digital future?
A: All our sites will roll out membership in the fall, and it’s going to be a crucial test for us, as we’ve spent a few years creating compelling local content, interesting events and clean user experiences, and now we’ll get a chance to see whether the loyalty we’ve shown our audience is returned by some percentage of it. I feel good about it, and success there means we’d move one more step away from dependency on display advertising.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the media industry today?
A: Culture. It used to be that legacy companies needed to be convinced that change was needed. Now, they know change needs to occur, but most are finding out that they may not have the right skillsets, content or business model to best take advantage of what digital offers. The question is whether the changes that now need to occur inside legacy companies can happen fast enough, and history is not on our side on that one.
Q: What do you think is the greatest opportunity for the media industry
A: The redefinition of our relationship with readers, both online and off. I would argue that, when the media business was at its best, we drifted away from our readers. We didn’t do many events, we had few avenues for feedback and we created more content to support ad initiatives than reader initiatives. We considered ourselves “of” the people, but we didn’t really want to be “with” them. We need to be with consumers now if we expect to succeed, which means more events, more ways for them to talk with us and a laser focus on user experience. Consumers have too many choices these days for us to live off our reputations.
Q: What’s your single proudest accomplishment?
A: I think running washingtonpost.com from 2004 to 2009. Those were the early days of the print newsroom caring about digital, and I’m really proud of what we achieved in educating the print side on what we could do digitally with their work, and also on what the web site could create on its own. It’s easy for the accomplishments of that team to be forgotten in an era where everyone at The Post is now fully on board with digital. But, unlike now, we had to fight for every yard of turf, and I’m really proud of how much we gained over those five hard years. And because we ploughed a lot of that turf, those who came after us didn’t have to.
Q: Why did you want to be part of the LMA Board?
A: Local remains journalism’s most endangered species. All news is local first, and if we let that source dry up, it’ll have extremely damaging consequences down the road for the journalism and for the country. The LMA board — and its membership — is comprised of people who are doing everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen. I am excited to be a part of that.