VP Products & Publisher
Tim McDougall is VP of Products for SourceMedia Group and Publisher of The Gazette. Tim has spent over 20 years in multiple marketing disciplines, including packaged goods, sports marketing, agency management, new product development, retail marketing, and media. His work with other companies includes Miller Brewing Company, the Houston Rockets, the New Orleans Hornets, GSD&M Advertising, and the P. F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. restaurant group.
[IA 0103] - Part 3: Introduction & Convergence (7:07)
Tim McDougall, V.P. products and publisher, Source Media, The Gazette, who previously held marketing management jobs in the restaurant industry, professional sports and the packaged goods industry, has been at The Gazette since April 2010. McDougall says, “Instead of detachment and independence from our audience … our mission really needs to be to build this community.” As a result, “That means you have to behave very differently,” says McDougall. McDougall manages the print and online editors and the TV news producers, and he has a “consumer insights team” that follows their audience’s likes and dislikes. “Instead of just informing, … engaging and connecting, our audience is a big part of what we are trying to do. We’re not there yet, but that’s where we are trying to get to,” says McDougall.
[IA 0104] - Part 4: Strategic Changes (9:15)
Tim McDougall, V.P. products and publisher, Source Media, The Gazette, says initially their organization got tangled up when it tried to “separate product from content” -- an abstract idea with “negative connotations.” It put employees “out of their comfort zone.” What was intended was to merge the reporters from its TV station, KCRG-TV, and The Gazette into a single reporting team -- a “content” team; to merge the newspaper editors and TV producers – into a “product” team; and merge all the sales personnel from TV and the newspaper into a single sales team. Once the concept was clarified, the process of change began. And in the summer of 2011, a “common newsroom” was being created to further rationalize Source Media’s newsgathering and news production tasks.
[IA 0105] - Part 5: Adaptation & the Future (9:36)
Tim McDougall, V.P. products and publisher, Source Media, The Gazette, says changing operating procedures needs to be managed delicately. “If you’re coming in from outside,” says McDougall, you need to understand “what’s already in place and what strategies are already there, before you start saying ‘I want to change this, this and this.’” McDougall says the key to keeping readership is “selling solutions” to its audiences. We want to be “a local information company as well as a media company,” says McDougall. Based on its market research, The Gazette wants to make its readers feel a little “smarter.” “How do we present information,” asks McDougall, “that makes you [the reader] feel like you understand something better now?”
[IA 0106] - Part 6: Managing the Gazette Website (4:30)
Tim McDougall, V.P. products and publisher, Source Media, The Gazette, says The Gazette is now asking the question: How do we make “a [website] that is in and of the web?” He feels early adaptations of newspapers to the web mimicked their print layouts. Now McDougall wants to discover what web-unique properties, which they may have overlooked, might be relevant for them. He asks: “What’s the user’s experience?” Anonymous reader comments, an industry-wide dilemma, are also a topic of concern at The Gazette. You can “create a cesspool,” says McDougall. Now they are considering only posting comments that meet the criteria: “Is [the comment] an extension of the story? Does it extend the story and make it more meaningful or not?” This management policy had not been resolved during our visit.
[IA 0107] - Part 7: Digital Revenues (6:33)
Tim McDougall, V.P. products and publisher, Source Media, The Gazette, says the three key sources of web-based revenues are: display ads, transactional fees and subscription fees. The Gazette had a paywall on its original website, but dropped it after it began selling display ads on its website. It is also experimenting with transactional fees, initially with its “Here’s the Deal” offering. McDougall says web-based revenues are growing, but they still are not sufficient to finance a quality news product.
[IA 0108] - Part 8: Prospects & Preparation (2:46)
Tim McDougall, V.P. products and publisher, Source Media, The Gazette, says working at The Gazette should appeal to individuals who enjoy the challenge of change. “I like disrupted industries,” says McDougall, “I find there to be a ton of opportunity there and a ton of value you can add to those kind of businesses.” “If you’re wired like that, then this is a fantastic place to be right now,” says McDougall. “If you want something that’s more safe and sound, it’s probably not the place you’re going to be most comfortable.” “But if you really want to look toward new ways of telling stories, if you really want to look at the way the industry is going to be moving – becoming more multi-media, becoming more engaged with your audience as a story-teller,” says McDougall, “then this is a fantastic place to be.”
[IA 0109] - Part 9: “Engaged” Journalism (9:47)
Tim McDougall, V.P. products and publisher, Source Media, The Gazette, says, “In capital-J journalism, to the very strictest sense, you need to be a mirror to the world; you’re not really supposed to engage. You’re supposed to be independent from an audience and report from a distance. And the flip for us, as we have been approaching it, is that you really can’t be engaged and independent at the same time. Those two things don’t really work together. To be engaged you’re going to have to get elbows- deep in what’s going on. And, we actually think … you’re going to get more honest stories and more true stories if you go that way, and you’re going to get more relevant stories.”