2) Create a product development culture. The biggest problem with traditional news organizations is that with only a few exceptions they do not even understand what product development means. Whether it's in the context of news coverage, "paywall" strategy, revenue development plans or new product initiatives, the company needs an aggressive focus on developing new products and a well-structured cross-discipline approach to the problem.
No more "church and state" divisions while at the same time acknowledging the basic and obvious requirements that advertiser relationships don't influence news decisions. Get at this right away because you'll immediately get the right people in the room having the right discussions that they're only infrequently in a position to have today. A weakness of the current online subscription strategy is that it appears focused only on the existing content rather than on exciting new initiatives that would invigorate the company and its audiences.
3) Clarify with precision the Post's local/national dilemma. The Post is schizophrenic about its role in D.C. and with the global audience. And it is complicated. But recent minimizing of local coverage in exchange for doubling down on the out-of-market audience, as The New York Times is doing, is not the right strategy for the Post. The D.C. area is too important, too influential and too prosperous to be marginalized. The Post barely covers its larger community and seems in odd ways to be dismissive of Virginia, a remarkable circumstance in light of the fact that northern Virginia is the economic engine that drives the entire region. (Why is so much more attention devoted to Maryland sports than Virginia sports, to pick an obvious example?) Rethink and expand local coverage, because there's audience and revenue in it.
At the same time acknowledge that the Post has to be the information company about politics and government, and expand both coverage and new product initiatives that at least begin to get the paper into the revenue streams that the large D.C. information companies play in as a result of their data and expertise about regulation, taxation and other public policy fields.
4) Take video seriously. Build a strategy that gets the Post in the game in ways far beyond the newsroom talking heads that are the core of the current strategy. When I ran MSNBC.com, I got the Post access to massive amounts of NBC News video—but back in 1999-2000, at a time when that kind of access was probably a bit premature and video was harder to deal with, produce, edit and distribute.
All that has changed. Acquire video, stream video and develop video products that are both integrated with the Post and valuable in their own right.
5) Rethink partnering. Again, the partnerships I helped create for the Post with NBC News, MSNBC and Microsoft 14 years ago helped bring new eyeballs to its content, but the commitments weren't there for a level of integration that would have been meaningful in dramatic ways.
Look at ABC News-Yahoo and other partnerships and assess new opportunities. Consider AP, Reuters, NPR/PBS, NBC, CNN and others. These work when the two sides restrain their egos and their employees are incentivized to collaborate. Without management commitment, they generally fail.
6) News and information company. Be absolutely clear that you want to be not merely a local newspaper company but a Washington-focused news and information company. Most Post people know but rarely articulate it. You and your management group need to say it over and over again to all internal and external audiences. The paper and website are not only important pieces of the company but where some of its best work is displayed. New products, new initiatives, new brands and new imagery can flow from the repetition of this new approach.