Newspaper sites: Step II: Hire a CTO or similar….

…because there is much work to be done

…because stodgy (but trusted) newspaper brands need to attract engineering talent and put online know-how in their blood stream.

So Step II:

Hire a CTO or similar

Summary: Newspaper brands can’t attract top tech talent. Due to old world practices of relationship management, “cross functional” (I shudder) management, and running everything up the flag role. Newspaper sites, Yahoo (with it’s injection of the Semel entertainment schmooze culture) and eBay (to a lesser extent) have a think middle management layer.  Good idea and opportunities get swallowed up in this layer.

And this is the kind of environment frustrates  developers and breeds apathy in engineering. It’s where you currently are and it needs to change.

Newspapers need to turn this around. Sure, there will be the normal checks and balances, but the culture needs to change and this how it starts.

Note here: Kudos here to EMI who recognized this necessity and reached out to snatch Doug Merrill from Google a few days ago. I’m sure this was precisely the thinking here.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/01/another-google-exec-bails-vp-leaves-to-head-emi-group/

Directive: Go out an hire someone who:

– who grew up in the consumer tech world and just didn’t come to work in it. 

– has managed a team of developers in a quick release cycle environment and can attract that talent

– who understands or has built products in content management or online reporting and revenue tracking

– who wears normal closes not suits or flashy attire (that’s just a personal preference)

…and pay them through the nose. Why? Because you need to validate the hire to the press and the industry. You need to insure they are given teeth within organization. And you need to attract top flight product development folks.

Why the CTO first instead of lead in product development? Because any good product development person knows that if the company cannot attract top engineers–especially coming from the Old World–then there ideas haven’t got a prayer and those are going to be coming quickly.

Begin the search now.

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