Ed Woods
Ed Woods

Three years ago, the Bennington Banner became affiliated with a management company by the name of Digital First Media. DFM brought together two larger newspaper companies to pursue a new strategy. The name implies that strategy. Create a business that moves with the migration of readers to the web and other digital platforms. Generate compelling, up to the minute content and make it available as it happens rather than waiting until traditional press time. Be prepared to offer multi-media solutions to local advertisers. Develop local, regional and national opportunities for advertisers to build their businesses.

Three years later, we are well on our way. Every month, over 182,000 people visit benningtonbanner.com. Pages there are viewed over 750,000 times per month. Add our mobile app, where another 500,000 pages are being viewed. In advertising, digital has become a part of most solutions that bring our customers success. As I have said many times when speaking about this topic, getting the message out in print and digital allows for the entire audience to view it, rather than selecting just print or just digital. As a result, we rarely offer these single platform solutions.

Last week, news of a change in our company sparked some local conversation. The announcement was made that Thunderdome, our New York City newsroom, would be closing. Some comments from Digital First Media CEO John Paton:

* Media changes very fast these days and nothing changes faster than digital.

* Make a change, then get set in your ways and become reluctant to make other changes and you get left behind.

* Today, we are going to be making some changes to our Project Thunderdome activities and go in a new direction.

In the past two years we have learned a tremendous amount from Project Thunderdome much like others that have come before it.

We have explored, experimented but more importantly we have learned and have a much higher level of digital skills than we did before. And, best of all, a higher level of confidence in our digital abilities across our entire Company.

Our skills in data journalism, video production, website and mobile developments are all the better for Project Thunderdome.

But what once were fairly isolated skills located in one place are now skills shared by many in our Company. Where once initiatives were led centrally, we now have divisions taking their own Digital First initiatives.

And that means it is time to change again.

While our Company will continue to invest heavily in digital development, increasingly our focus will be in local where we are the news and information leader in our markets.

Simply stated, the work started at Thunderdome will carry on here locally. You, our readers and advertisers, have played a key role in the transformation of your local newspaper. We look forward to your ongoing involvement while we continue to develop print and digital products that exceed expectations.

Edward L. Woods, Publisher and Regional Vice President Digital First Media at the Bennington Banner