published Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Griscom: Newspaper strives to meet readers in best spot

by Tom Griscom

Q: What was it like when you arrived as executive editor in 1999 after the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press combined operations?

TOM GRISCOM: I came nine months later. I think the (former Times and Free Press) staffs were still trying to get used to each other. This was a JOA (Joint Operating Agreement) in Chattanooga. The business side was put together

in one, but the editorial sides remained separate. There were still (growing) pains going on.

Q: Now that were firmly in the 21st century, what do think readers see as the identity of the Times Free Press?

TOM GRISCOM: I think they’ve wrestled with whether it’s liberal or conservative — which is OK. I think they’ve figured out we have not lost the imprint of the community with this newspaper. As a matter of fact, I think we do it better (than before). They realize we have stretched our content.

Q: How has the experiment with two editorial pages worked out?

MR. GRISCOM: To this day, people ask: “Are you going to keep the two editorial pages?” This is an experiment I’m amazed nobody has picked up on.

I’ve talked about this extensively in different newspaper forums. It helps with the editorial product if you can get out of being identified with being ‘for’ this candidate and ‘against’ that one. You have people looking at the front page and they don’t see the biases people expect with an editorial endorsements. We are the only newspaper in America that carries the two editorial voices.

Q: What does the future hold for the Times Free Press?

MR. GRISCOM: We made a clear decision that for the readers and users of our content, now and going foward, you have to recognize there are multiple audiences and platforms. We will continue to have a very dynamic print product, but we have to be wise enough to take that print product and to add to it. The remote society today wants to see their hometown newspaper.

(We’ve) got to have a dynamic Web site. (We’ve) got to have video, audio, blogs and podcasts. Now, we’re taking about using social network sites and text messaging. It’s like you’ve got this whole menu to choose from. But at the core of it, it’s all about content.

— Compiled by Mark Kennedy

  • Video: A stronger paper
    Tom Griscom, Chattanooga Times Free Press publisher and executive editor, recalls merging two newspaper cultures into one in Chattanooga 10 years ago. Mr. Griscom also discusses the "dynamic" growth of the newspaper's Web site.
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