When people ask me about the future of newspapers, and they get that gloomy look in their eyes, I remind them it's all about the content. If people are engaged, and care about their community and the government that serves them, then what we do is vitally important to the community we call home.
What is not vitally important is how that content is delivered. Our work now appears in print, in multiple digital forms, on iPads and Nooks, in video story tellings, in text news alerts and on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The idea that this newspaper is a one-size-fits-all printed product is little more than a nostalgic Rockwellian image of the past.
The Bakersfield Californian has always prided itself about being on the cutting edge of technology (our website bakersfield.com was launched back in 1995) and we are keenly aware that readers and advertisers are finding new ways to obtain content and reach their advertisers. That's why change is part of our company culture, and serving our readers and advertisers on multiple platforms is something we talk about every day.
Our latest venture involves a partnership between The Californian and locally owned American General Media, the leading radio group serving Bakersfield and Kern County. Effective in early March, we will be creating a three-hour daily news show simulcast on radio on KERN AM 1180 and streamed lived in high definition video on Bakersfield.com. It is basically a radio and TV show in one smart package, leveraging the expertise of some of the most talented editors and reporters in town inside The Californian.
The venture is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the nation, pairing the dominant newspaper with a leading news-talk station. The Californian has constructed a broadcast studio in the heart of its third-floor newsroom, where the show will run daily from 7 to 10 a.m. weekdays.
The program will be titled "First Look with Scott Cox" and will feature news, weather, entertainment and social media, interviews with newsmakers and The Californian's stable of popular columnists.
Cox is an employee of American General Media, owner of KERN 1180, and will serve as host. AGM will also provide producers and a news reader for the show, while The Californian will draw on its award-winning editors and reporters to help provide content, insight, investigative journalism and news commentary.
Other newspapers are doing live video and news shows from their newsrooms, but to my knowledge no one else is doing it in partnership with a radio news-talk leader.
"First Look" will be part "Meet the Press," part "The Dan Patrick Show" and part "Imus in the Morning." It will be newsy, witty and fast paced. You'll be able to hear it on the radio or watch it in high definition live on bakersfield.com or watch replays or edited segments later on demand.
"First Look" will add to The Californian's existing video programming, which includes "BVarsity Live," live local sports and breaking news. The Californian plans to expand its live video programming later this year.
So yes, newspapers are alive and well, changing and evolving. Join us in March for "First Look."
Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Californian. He blogs at www.BakersfieldObserved.com