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Scripps CEO: Newspapers Need Less Stenography, More Storytelling


For Immediate Release:

Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (509) 859-2818, sleadingham@spj.org

ATLANTA – “The future belongs to storytellers. Why would I want to base my future on low-content information shoveling?”

That’s what E.W Scripps Company CEO Rich Boehne said about current newspaper coverage of many daily events. The comments were made Saturday in a question and answer session before several hundred attendees of the 2008 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Atlanta. Boehne, whose company owns a number of media operations around the country, equated certain aspects of sports coverage and public affairs reporting to modern day “stenography.”

“A lot of journalism over the past 30 years is stenography – typing sports scores and what the mayor said. There’s less of a need for that now,” said Boehne.

The audience, which included journalists in all types of media – including that which may be considered “stenographic” – probed Boehne with questions for an hour about his vision for the Scripps company and the future of the media industry.

Aside from his views of where print journalism is heading and how reporters must adapt to provide more provocative narrative, Boehne spoke about everything from the expansion of television markets to the essential news element of small-town papers.

“(Scripps) believe(s) that TV stations – not just newspapers – have the right to be the dominant information provider in local markets,” he said.

However, he also recognized that while larger newspapers are in decline, papers that serve smaller markets are still in high demand.

“Mid and small market papers are the healthiest today. There is a wonderful place for those papers in today’s marketplace,” he said.

Boehne made his comments on the basis of his experience as both a business executive and reporter. Before moving to Scripps’ corporate division in 1988, he was a business reporter and editor at The Cincinnati Post, a Scripps newspaper, where he spent four years covering Wall Street, the national economy and developments in the media industry.

He began his career as a part-time reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He later graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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