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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Peninsula Press Club: Pruitt, Keller address Stanford audience

Pruitt, Keller address Stanford audience

NY Times editor Bill Keller, former LA Times exec Harry Chandler, Google VP Marissa Mayer and McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt, on a panel at Stanford last night, gave their views on whether newspapers will survive "in the new world of journalism?" The following quotes come from the Stanford Daily's report of the discussion.

Bill Keller: “We just need to be adaptable,” he said, citing Charles Darwin, “and we’ve clearly done that throughout history ... We face a wrenching transition.”

Harry Chandler, heir to the family that owned the LA Times for decades and now a major Tribune Co. shareholder: “The newspaper business model is pretty out of whack, and I don’t even know what a whack is. I think we’re five to 10 years away from finding where the stasis is, and there will be a lot of pain before we get there.” He said media titans should consider taking their companies private, outsourcing reporting jobs to India and holding editors to business benchmarks. “Television has done this for years,” he said. “It’s called ratings, and people live by them.”

Marissa Mayer suggested that the future of journalism may lie in the hands of MySpace and Facebook reporters, who would write first-hand reports that could be edited and aggregated by citizen journalists. The futuristic idea, which she attributed to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, drew some incredulous laughs from a mostly older audience, according to Stanford Daily reporter Emma Trotter.

Gary Pruitt, whose company bought the Knight Ridder chain last year and then sold off local KR papers to Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, said: “There’s a big print audience still in existence here ... That’s not the profile of a dying industry.” Pruitt reminded the audience that newspapers have survived the popularity of the telegraph, radio and television, even though analysts once warned each would harm the traditional print newspaper.

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