Site sponsor: ONA 2003 Conference and Awards Banquet, Chicago

Keynote speech
Tribune's Fuller: Future is paid content

Will Sullivan photo

Tribune Publishing president Jack Fuller gives the opening keynote address.

By Kelly O'Brien
November 14, 2003

EVANSTON, Ill. -- The president of Tribune Publishing said Friday that the future of online journalism will likely include paid content.

“We got everybody used to the idea that things that cost a lot of money to make ought to be available for absolutely nothing,” said Jack Fuller, describing the earliest days of online news publishing.

But, he said, out of necessity, “I think everyone will move, at least in part, to a model paid by the reader.”

Addressing the Online News Association’s fourth annual conference in Chicago, Fuller conceded, “Nobody wants to go first. If you go first, you lose.”

Fuller, the keynote speaker, pointed out another lesson that must be learned if the online media are going to thrive: adaptability.

“People get upset when newspapers change,” said Fuller, but they also get upset when online media don’t.

The trick is knowing how to change, he said.

“What we need to do in confronting changes,” he said, “is experiment, assess the results and adapt over and over and over again.”

In essence, Fuller said, journalists would be “experimenting our way to the future.”

Since the advent of online journalism, Fuller said that a great deal of information has been gained on what young people, in particular, expect from their news coverage.

He was encouraged that “we can reach young people with what we like to think of as news,” he said, “so long as we don’t make the news reports too demanding, too long, or too difficult.”

However, he added that young readers want editors to acknowledge that they know “what the difference is between what’s important in the world and what’s just entertaining.”

Fuller’s comments to about 250 ONA members kicked off the two-day conference, which will also address media convergence, coverage of the Iraqi war and the increasing popularity of Weblogs. The winners of the 4th Annual Online Journalism Awards will be announced Saturday night.

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  • Technology fueled war coverage but allowed horrifying images
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  • Converging newsrooms requires 'buy-in' on all sides
  • Web brings new legal questions for journalists
  • Interactive features succeed as storytelling tools
  • Tribune's Fuller: Future is paid content