News executives opening the Associated Press Managing Editors meeting in Denver on Wednesday said mobile news delivery offers newspapers and other media companies a good opportunity to make money in the digital world.
Tom Curley, The Associated Press' president and CEO, said media companies lost revenue opportunities with the Internet but have a chance to change that with mobile.
"We've got to be smarter, this time, in the do-over. There won't be a third time," Curley said.
William Dean Singleton, publisher of The Denver Post and The Salt Lake Tribune and chairman of The Associated Press, said print media is still the most profitable segment of the industry and will continue to survive.
"Newspapers aren't dead. They're not anywhere near dead. They're not going to die. They're going to change a lot," Singleton said.
But he advocated for rapid adaptation to new technologies.
"We must find an economic business model to operate within the new economic rules, and it's been painful," said Singleton, who compared the challenge facing the news business to walking across a canyon on a tightrope.
In another sign of the times, the APME board voted earlier Wednesday to change the association's name to the Associated Press Media Editors to better reflect the organization's varied membership, which includes broadcasters as well as college students and professors.
Curley said the AP will announce in the coming weeks partnerships with dozens of newspapers to bring mobile advertising content to mobile devices. He assured the news executives that the mobile news delivery will be profitable.
Kate Marymont, Gannett Co. vice president for news, said newspapers should sharpen their focus on what they do best, and outsource cheaply produced "commodity information" such as sports scores and weather.
"Our firepower needs to go to watchdog journalism, the great storytelling," she said.
While the media executives said they were optimistic about the future, they were frank about the rocky path ahead, predicting further layoffs and consolidation in the news business.
"This ain't the job we applied for, but it's the job we got," Singleton said.
The conference continues through Friday, with discussions on social media and advancing limitations on sports coverage.
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