The story broke April 2, when John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, announced that his chain of 75 daily newspapers was pulling the plug on its two-year-old experiment in shared, digital content, Project Thunderdome.
“We had 50-some-odd people and 95 percent of them will be leaving the company as part of this change,” said Jim Brady, DFM’s editor-in-chief and chief architect of Project Thunderdome. “So, for all intents and purposes, Thunderdome is dead. Whether the work lives on or some of the new ideas and technologies we brought into the company will live on — I think they will — but they’re going to have to be managed by the papers now.”
DFM launched Project Thunderdome as a way to centralize non-local news production in one location.
“If 20 percent of your effort in your newsroom is going to producing non-local stuff, obviously, that doesn’t make a lot of sense in these tight times,” Brady said “So, it was our job to help produce the national content.”
Project Thunderdome’s second role was to create unique content that could generate revenue across all of DFM’s 75 daily newspapers. It did this by producing special sections in feature areas such as health, technology and pets.
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