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‘Adweek’ Digital Editor Brian Morrissey on Moving to Digiday: ‘I Wouldn’t Have Left ‘Adweek’ to do the Same Thing in a Different Place’

Brian Morrissey, digital editor for Adweek, made waves last week when it was announced he’d be leaving the trade publication after more than six years to join Digiday, an upstart trade media and events company as editor-in-chief.

In some ways, the move is a trade media equivalent of what we’ve seen in the last year with well-known journalists such as the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz, who left the newspaper to join Tina Brown at the Daily Beast.

PRNewser spoke with Morrissey this week for his first interview since the announcement.

We’ll start with the question many folks are probably interested in: why did you make the move?

I wouldn’t have left Adweek to do the same thing in a different place. Over the years I often had the experience of thinking how we’d do things completely differently if we didn’t have to run the legacy machinery of a print publication. All our time, energy and processes were by necessity geared to the difficult task of producing a weekly magazine. Digiday has an opportunity to build a great modern vertical media company pretty much from scratch. It has great, targeted events and has begun to really focus on complementing that with first-rate digital publishing. I love the idea of being part of a small, energetic team building something new.

What do you think some of your immediate editorial initiatives will be at Digiday?

I want to immediately work with the team to come up with a clear vision for what Digiday stands for. All great publications have that. We’ll have that. Next I want to identify core areas we need to own. Digiday needs to be experts in these areas. The era of the generalist is over. The long-term ambition is for Digiday to be the leading media company focused on digital media and marketing. We’ll get there bit by bit. My goal is we improve every week.

Things are getting more and more competitive when it comes to online journalism. People are literally fighting to get something an hour or so before other publications. How do you expect things to break down in terms of news reporting versus trends and analysis at Digiday?

Breaking stories is important, not just for the page views but for the credibility. We’ll focus on that. What we won’t do is focus on breaking news at the expense of getting things right.  Too often you see people just rush things out there. That’s a losing strategy in the long term. I want us to get to the point where we have the smartest industry commentary and analysis. Digiday should be the place everyone in the industry turns to at the start of the day to know what matters now and what will matter in the future.

Where do trade publications need to advance and innovate; where are their opportunities for growth?

This is a great time for trade publications, although maybe not as much in the traditional model. There’s a need more than ever for timely, valuable content. This is a time of the greatest upheaval in media and advertising than we’ve seen in 75 years. Information is at a premium. Where I think trade publications need to evolve is away from thinking of themselves as content companies. They’re actually in the connection business. They connect people to information, insights, each other.

This can be done many ways – through a news story, smart analysis, aggregation, or conference event. The role of “content creator” is a mashup of journalist and moderator. I want Digiday’s content, like the events, to serve as the forum for industry discussion. That means we’ll write for participation.

How do you envision working with the PR community? How can they help?

Treat us the same you’d treat any other publication in the field. We have plenty of work to do, but the vision is for Digiday to be the number one place for industry information. My hope is that’s something any client would want to be part of. Hopefully, we’ll do it in a way that’s smart, generous and a little fun.

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