Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Greg Hadfield: 'Why I left the Telegraph'

Greg Hadfield, the Telegraph Media Group's head of digital development who announced that he was leaving the company at last week's news rewired conference, has written a blog about his departure for MediaGuardian today.
He admits that  some of his  comments created a "storm" at the Telegraph. But says: "Most of my comments related to my oft-expressed belief that individual journalists – and the premium content they produce – must be even more central to everything newspapers do. That journalists need to be more entrepreneurial, but that the skills traditionally associated with top-flight journalism – passion, hard work, curiosity, determination, clarity of purpose, and so on – are also those employed by a successful entrepreneur. That the future is more about individual journalists, rather than about big media. Big media will continue to be a large part of the landscape, but its role will change.
"I suggested that even the most successful traditional media companies were merely digging their graves more slowly than their less successful rivals, buying a little more time in which to undertake vital – often painful – transformational change."
He adds: "In response to questions, I said bluntly local newspapers had surrendered their pivotal position at the heart of their communities. Not through poor journalism, but through lack of innovation by media owners. Facebook and a whole host of digital enterprises have stolen their communities, advertisers, and business models."
Hadfield also says: "When I joined the Telegraph in January 2009, I was proud and excited in equal measure – albeit disconcerted by how little had changed since all newspapers began routinely to put their content online late last century, when I stopped describing myself as a journalist."
He concludes: "No longer can newspapers survive by publishing at their readers, by talking down to them, by controlling what can and can't be written or said. In future, they will have to provide – and share, not "own" – the online environment in which they can meet the needs of individual members of their community. They have to be part of social media, not monolithic media.
"But for those newspapers that survive, it is going to be a long journey. Who knows how long? I suggested radical innovation may take five years … because the future always seems to be five years away.
"At 53, however, I don't have as much time as many to wait for the future. I want to help make it happen now."
Hadfield is joining Brighton-based digital development company Cogapp.

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