Newspapers will face immense change in the coming decade, but the editor chosen to guide The Globe and Mail through the next stage of its 165-year evolution believes the newspaper's commitment to journalism will not be altered.
John Stackhouse, 46, a native of Toronto who joined The Globe and Mail in 1989 and went on to become one of Canada's most decorated journalists as a foreign correspondent, was named editor-in-chief yesterday.
Mr. Stackhouse, who has served as editor of the Report on Business since 2004, said he takes the reins of Canada's national newspaper at a challenging time for the industry. But news organizations can also seize upon new opportunities to expand online and into mobile platforms, he said.
The move is part of a broader set of changes at The Globe and Mail designed to expand the newspaper's digital strategy.
Former globeandmail.com editor Angus Frame was named vice-president of digital media, a position he inherits from Globe executive Roger Dunbar. Mr. Dunbar had been serving in that role along with his primary function, vice-president of business development, which he now assumes full time.
Amid the flux in the media sector, the public's appetite for news and information remains strong, regardless of how it is delivered, Mr. Stackhouse said after addressing staff.
"In everything I've been lucky enough to do in this industry and at The Globe, it's always come down to journalism. It's finding out information that people will care about, and finding ways to tell those stories in ways that demand people's time," Mr. Stackhouse said.
"It doesn't matter if it's detailing the recession or covering a war in Africa or social trends in India. And it doesn't matter if it's a 5,000-word story in a newspaper, or a tweet or a blog. The basic challenges are the same: finding out information that matters to people."
He takes over from Edward Greenspon, a veteran of The Globe and Mail who served as editor-in-chief for seven years. In making the management change, publisher Phillip Crawley praised Mr. Greenspon's work to bolster the paper's coverage. "He made his reputation as an astute observer of Canadian politics and turned the Ottawa bureau into a powerhouse of coverage," Mr. Crawley told staff.
The publisher said it was time for The Globe to push further into new media, and at an accelerated pace. Mr. Stackhouse, who recently oversaw the relaunch of the Globe Investor websites along with Mr. Frame, will steer these projects.
"We're not trying to make dramatic changes at this point in the way The Globe either looks or behaves. But I think there are certain internal things that need to happen. We need to be a bit quicker at making decisions," Mr. Crawley said.
"John has a very good track record with the paper. ... He's taken the Report on Business to a place where it wasn't before, to a more forward-thinking, thought-provoking section."
Mr. Crawley said the management change comes now so Mr. Stackhouse will have time to prepare for several major projects in the next year and a half. Most notably, the paper will be redesigned in the fall of 2010 using new presses that will allow an all-colour format and glossy paper on some pages.
Mr. Stackhouse has won five National Newspaper Awards, the most of any reporter, including several while stationed as a foreign correspondent in New Delhi. His work focused on developmental issues throughout Southeast Asia and Africa, which formed the basis of the 2001 book Out of Poverty. He is also author of Timbit Nation, a diary of hitchhiking across Canada.
Upon returning to Toronto from Asia, he was The Globe's correspondent-at-large, writing on topics such as homelessness and the relationship between Canada's aboriginal communities and the rest of the country.
Mr. Stackhouse began his first stint at the paper as a nine-year-old, when he noticed advertisements on lampposts in his Toronto neighbourhood for a newspaper carrier and applied. The circulation manager expressed concerns with his father, former MP and University of Toronto professor Reg Stackhouse, about the boy's age. In the end, Mr. Stackhouse got the job, helped in part by the fact that he tore down most of the advertisements in the neighbourhood to narrow the field.
Mr. Stackhouse lives in Toronto with his wife, Cindy Andrew, and two children, ages 9 and 11.
"The Globe represents not only the best journalism in Canada, but I hope the best that Canada can be," Mr. Stackhouse said.
"On its best days, it is a national voice that helps Canadians understand their country and their communities and the world, and helps the world understand Canada. In its simplest form, it's one of the great town squares of this country. It's where people gather to find out what's going on." Staff
THE VIEW FORWARD
What can readers of The Globe expect from this change?
They can expect journalism that's as good as any in the world, on the issues and events that are crucial to Canada. They can expect journalism of consequence, which means news and ideas that shape and challenge your understanding of our world, our country and our communities. Increasingly, they can expect our journalism delivered to them in the most convenient manner. To me, The Globe rests on some very simple principles - authority, credibility and honesty. To those I'd add passion and community. We should be passionate about our news decisions, and we should work with our community of readers to improve everything we do.
Do you foresee changes in the weighting of topics and themes covered by The Globe?
The economy is the most important issue out there. I think we cover it better than anyone else in Canada. We'll devote even more resources to that, in print and online. I'd also like to focus on our cities and the environments around us; technology, education and innovation; our personal space of family and health; and the legal and ethical choices that guide this country.
What are your thoughts on the future of newspapers?
There's still a demand for quality newspapers, in fact more so since the economic crisis took hold. People migrate to trusted sources when their world view is challenged. We're seeing that, and need to continue to earn the trust of our current readers and new readers. We need to take consequential news - what matters and will continue to matter - and make it immediately interesting to a lot of very busy people.
How will you manage the evolution of newspapers online?
Globeandmail.com is first with the news when it matters to Canada. That goes without saying. We're using the Web for all sorts of new ways to tell stories. Video's a great example. The Web allows us to form lots of new partnerships with other media and other organizations that share our values. Our readers should be a big part of that, helping us and each other develop stories, test ideas and share information.