Convention 2012: John Kirkpatrick on the recent changes at The Patriot-News (Harrisburg)

  • Nov 16, 2012

Andrea Merovich

John Kirkpatrick, president and publisher of The Patriot-News, discussed the recent changes announced at the news organization, including a reduced print schedule starting in January and an increased emphasis on digital. At Thursday’s Keynote Luncheon, Kirkpatrick addressed a packed house of news executives to explain what he describes as "a fundamental shift of resources."

Effective January 1, 2013, The Patriot-News will reduce its print schedule to three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday). Each edition will resemble that of the current Sunday newspaper in size, and many current sections will be maintained. In the interim, The Patriot-News staff is ramping up its digital presence so readers will still get the latest, breaking news, 24/7. At the news organization, a small group of individuals will work on constructing the newspaper itself, but the majority of the staff will be digitally-focused. "Their job is to fill the digital news stream that we're creating," says Kirkpatrick.

Consequently, The Patriot-News is now split into two separate companies - PA Media Group, which handles all content, sales and marketing, and Advance Central Services Pennsylvania, which encompasses all of the company's support services.

Even with its drive to digital, Kirkpatrick states the paper has no plans to erect a paywall. He also emphasized the continued importance of the print product to the community and the company.  In the event of breaking news or a special event like Black Friday, the company is prepared to print newspapers on additional days. The print subscription price is expected to increase.

Throughout the process, Kirkpatrick says they will strive to be as transparent as possible - to their readers, employees and colleagues. According to Kirkpatrick, the move to reduce print and increase digital is a strategic decision to position the company for future success.  Based on the audience response and the many questions he fielded, it is clear that news companies across the state will be watching it all with great interest.

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