When Andy Pergam accepted his award for “Digital Innovator of the Year” at LMA’s Digital Revenue Summit in Chicago, he made it clear that the award’s title was a misnomer.
“The singular version ‘Innovator’ rings a bit odd to me since innovation rarely occurs alone,” Pergam, vice president of video and new ventures at McClatchy, said. “You often see partnerships or teams that push the boundaries.”
After a broadcast career and time at The Washington Post, Pergam joined McClatchy to direct video strategy and innovation in 2014. In his time there, he has established The McClatchy Video Lab and helped it grow into a 60-person team that supports 30 newsrooms.
During his acceptance speech Wednesday, Pergam shared his thoughts on how local media organizations can innovate and “go beyond the near future to the next future.”
While the power of teams was a highlight of that discussion, Pergam also mentioned media institutions’ need to “treat innovation like a business” and be open to finding opportunities. He urged attendees to go beyond thinking about ad sales and video revenue share to identify “real solutions” that will help them stay competitive and connect with the community.
“This is a critical time for our industry,” Pergam said. “And I know how hard it is to focus efforts on getting better when many of us are focusing simply on survival.”
Pergam discussed McClatchy’s “experimentation with purpose” ethos that has helped them innovate and how their organization wants to “shape the future” rather than simply “play catch up” to it.
Currently, McClatchy is building its Video Lab West facility in Sacramento where they will be experimenting with new forms of storytelling, such as AR, VR and 360 video. In addition, McClatchy is investing in serialized,non-fiction video storytelling and identifying better ways to grow their audiences using social media.
As Pergam concluded his speech, he referenced Michelle Wolf’s comments from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner about print media being “an endangered species.” Comparing print and local media’s challenges, Pergam encouraged attendees to embrace the “endangered” status and start innovating.
“I think our fight instinct needs to kick in,” Pergam said. “Let’s puff out our chests. Let’s get fast on our feet. Let’s use whatever we’ve got in the tank to get to a better vantage point and regroup. We may have fewer people on our teams now, but let’s take what we’ve got [and] be smart and scrappy about it.”