Eliza Gaines of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Talks Future of Publishing

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

Eliza Gaines

Eliza Gaines, 25, is the daughter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s publisher and owner, Walter Hussman Jr. From Little Rock, she previously worked as a research assistant for the Reese Felts Digital News Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as an intern and staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and as a reporter for the food and travel sections of the Democrat-Gazette.

Gaines graduated with a bachelor’s in English in 2009 and a master’s in mass communication in 2012 from UNC at Chapel Hill.

Q: Did you always think you would follow your father into the news business?

A: I’ve always loved reading and writing, and I grew up thinking I would be a writer, and maybe eventually a reporter for the Democrat-Gazette. Slowly over the years I became more interested in the business side of things as I realized we were doing things differently than other newspapers and it was working, while other newspapers were suffering.

Q: What are your long-term career goals?

A: I would like to keep the Democrat-Gazette a family business and keep it a successful newspaper. One goal is to keep our readers loyal by being the most trusted and reliable source of news for Arkansas. Another goal is to continually adapt to new technology and recruit a new audience — one that has grown up with free online content and maybe doesn’t realize the value of the newspaper.

Q: What changes would you like to see in the newspaper industry?

A: I think more and more newspapers are realizing that they need to start charging for their online content, so that’s encouraging. I would also like to see newspapers invest in their newsrooms and make the products they put out absolutely vital to their readers. I think one way this can be done is by focusing on in-depth local news that can’t be found elsewhere.

Q: In 10 years, what do you foresee the Democrat-Gazette looking like in terms of news delivery, staff size and content?

A: News delivery really depends on our readers and the way they consume their news. In order to keep up the quality and quantity of news we produce, I don’t see much change in terms of staff size. I don’t see much change in content either.

Q: How is the Democrat-Gazette preparing for the transition to digital-only? Or do you believe print will last forever?

A: Print may not last forever, but I think it will definitely stick around for a while. I think a lot of it has to do with habit. It’s amazing how many people I’ve talked to who say they can’t imagine not reading the paper — the actual print edition — over their cereal every morning. I do, however, believe there will be a shift in my lifetime where digital is the main outlet for news. If that happens, I think that the Democrat-Gazette’s mindset to continually adapt to readers’ needs has prepared us for that.

Q: In the near future, can the Web support the type of journalism the Democrat-Gazette is doing?

A: I think that the print edition will be our main source of revenue for a good amount of time. However, if there is a shift to digital as the main source of revenue, we will find a way to continue giving our readers the same relevant, interesting, unique content they are accustomed to.



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