Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Old Media, New Tricks: The New Republic’s Chris Hughes and USA Today’s Larry Kramer Join Dive Into Media

How do you take a print publication with a famous name and a fraught business outlook, and transform it for the digital age?

Ask Chris Hughes and Larry Kramer.

Hughes, one of the original Facebook friends, used a bit of his newfound wealth to buy the storied New Republic earlier this year. A few months after that, Gannett put Kramer, a longtime digital media pro, in charge of its iconic USA Today.

Those are two very disparate publications, but they share a similar challenge: It’s very easy to find the stuff they’re best at — political opinion and general news — for free, all over the Internet. So how do you get readers and advertisers to pay attention, and/or money?

There’s a very good chance Hughes and Kramer won’t solve that one by February, when they appear at our D: Dive into Media conference in Laguna Niguel, California. But we’ll get a very interesting progress report. And since they’ll be onstage at the same time, we should get a very entertaining conversation, too.

Kramer is a former reporter and editor who ended up building and running big Web businesses — most notably MarketWatch, which he sold to CBS in 2005. He then stuck around long enough to help the TV giant embrace digital, via deals like the ones that put March Madness on the Web and CBS TV shows on iTunes. For a smart overview of his challenges at USA Today, see Ken Doctor’s take from earlier this year.

Hughes, quite famously, was one of Mark Zuckerberg’s roommates at Harvard, and became Facebook’s first marketing and PR head. Then he joined Barack Obama’s first presidential run, where he played a key role in the campaign’s pioneering use of social media. Now he’s trying to revamp a 98-year-old magazine that used to play a key role in Washington politics; for more on that see this excellent New York magazine profile.

They’ll join a pretty great cast at the stunning Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on February 11 and 12. Here’s who we’ve told you about so far: Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, Hearst Magazines president David Carey, Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora, Facebook partnership vice president Dan Rose, HBO co-president Eric Kessler, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen, Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith, Intel media head Erik Huggers and Samsung media head David Eun, Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos and The Person From “Arrested Development” We’d Like to Name But Can’t (Yet).

More to come! In the meantime, head here to find registration information for the conference. See you soon …

 


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work