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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Kraner’

A Year In, The Expanded AnnArbor.com Is ‘Fine,’ ‘Promising,’ ‘Hardly a Revolution’

About a year ago, the Ann Arbor News closed up, replaced by the Web-first, print-second AnnArbor.com, making Ann Arbor, Michigan the first American city to lose its only daily paper.

Like many webbier, bloggier replacements for newspapers (like SeattlePI.com), AnnArbor.com’s strategy has been to stay small and lean and grow slow but steady. Unlike SeattlePI.com and others, the website isn’t competing with a print product.

So how has the site done over the past year? Says Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, steady growth in pageviews, no furloughs, and a few hires (though no new journalists have been added since the site’s launch last year).

The print product, which twice weekly compiles the highlights of AnnArbor.com for people who like paper, is the “single biggest revenue driver” for the site, says AnnArbor.com president and CEO Matt Kraner. But of the online portion, company officials say the answer is proprietary. “Perhaps tellingly,” writes Zorn, “Ann Arbor still is the only American city of any size to have lost its local daily to a dotcom, and Advance officials say they have no plans to expand the idea to other markets. Yet.”

However, Zorn says, the journalism is better than before, and the site is improving.

A former sports columnist for the paper who left in 2008 (before the paper closed) to enroll in law school told Zorn that AnnArbor.com is “fine. It’s producing just the sort of content you’d expect from a small-town paper with a staff that size. It’s hardly the revolution the city was promised.”

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Ann Arbor Goes From Print To Web

Another publication is abandoning print to become a web only publication. Romenesko reports that Ann Arbor News will make the jump from daily newspaper to a primarily online publication. The website, AnnArbor.com, will produce two weekly editions of their newspaper.

“The Ann Arbor News was struggling as a daily print newspaper, with steep losses in 2008,” said publisher Laurel Champion. “At the same time the demand for local news and information in a wired community has never been stronger.”

Employees of the paper were told that they can apply for jobs at AnnArbor.com, but could expect some job losses as the paper moves to its online iteration. Former chief marketing officer for The Plain Dealer, Matt Kraner, will serve as the site’s president and chief executive and Tony Dearing, former editor of the Flint Journal, was named chief content leader. Champion will stay on as Vice President of the website.

While providing primarily acting as a news site, the company is looking to add innovative features that will make the site more interactive and social.