USA america
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Last year was the key "transformational" year for US publisher Gannett, which owns Newsquest, Robert Dickey, president of the US community publishing division told the World Editors Forum in Bangkok.

"We have moved from being a publishing company to a multimedia powerhouse," he said in the keynote speech.

Dickey said while much of the world knows Gannett for publishing USA Today, the 106-year-old company has 81 local newspapers in the US and 23 television stations.

The company has 5,000 journalists and the digital transformation was built on local ties. "Local journalism is our most important offering," Dickey said. "Our goal with digital is to provide access to that."

He said that digital progression will not kill newspapers, at least not for the foreseeable future. "Digital simply offers us more ways to connect people."

Last year Gannett started introducing metered paywall options for its local titles. Several choices are available to subscribers, including an 'all access model', combining print and digital.

Dickey said that 2012 was the first time in six years that Gannett gained in circulation revenue, adding that 28 per cent of revenues are now from digital.

Gannett has also invested in local digital marketing, such as Groupon-like coupon deals.

The "transformation has increased both top level revenue and circulation revenue", he said.

The publisher has also made organisational changes as it shifts focus to digital by creating a national newsdesk. In what Dickey described as a "bold move for Gannett", the publisher created the national desk - based in the USA Today newsroom - which feeds into more than 100 local newsrooms. This allows editors to focus on local, strong, investigative work, he explained.

Dickey said Gannett has also invested in tools and training, with video currently the top training priority for journalists.

The main challenge, in Dickey's view is "to constantly know your audience".

Reflecting on the past and looking to the future he said: "One thing hasn't changed in 106 years: all news is local."

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