Jan 26, 2012 — Earlier this week, Tom Curley announced his retirement after nine years as president and CEO of the Associated Press. The 63 year-old Curley spent his tenure working to transform the news cooperative for the digital era. Now that he's retiring, Curley said he plans to spend more time in the Adirondacks, where he owns a home on Upper Saranac Lake with his wife, Marsha Stanley. Chris Knight intereviewed Curley this week about the changing times faced by newspapers and what he sees as the biggest issues facing the Adirondacks.
Curley oversaw the Associated Press during what he described as a "tumultous time" in news media. The industry was battered by a rapid shift in the way many consumers get their news and a painful recession. Many newspapers saw their advertising profits and circulation plummit.
AP responded by cutting rates for its member newspapers, launching new multimedia platforms and leading a search for fresh sources of revenue.
While many challenges lie ahead, Curley said, he thinks newspapers will continue to be around for years to come, especially those that know how to stay relevant and focused on their readership.
"In terms of the business," Curley said, "it's about revenue, and the way you get revenue is being relevant for the audiences that you serve. That has to change. People are getting their news by way of smart phones, and they're finding out that they don't have to wait to get the content, so we have to adjust."
With the growth in digital media and other online platforms, Curley said the need for good journalism has grown.
"More information is available and there's more chaos out there, so the importance of journalism has actually risen. The power of good journalism, the journalism that makes a difference and tells people what they need to know, has never been greater."
That also means there are more opportunities for young journalists now than ever before, Curley said. While revenue has been leaving some of the traditional news media forms, like newspapers, Curley sees a brighter future for the field:
"If you look at the audiences for journalism, they've risen. If you look at the engagement with pieces of journalism, it's up. The marketplace has grown, there's more journalism avaialable and there's more places that it's being practiced than ever before in history. The bigger picture is rosy, and I think it's a growing market."
Curley has also kept an eye on issues facing the Adirondacks over the years, as he and his wife have owned a home on Upper Saranac Lake since 2003. He named the "growth issues" faced by communities in the Adirondacks as the biggest story in the Park these days.
"There's a lot of pressure on these communities," Curley said. "There's certainly not the growth that is needed, and how to go about delivering a future where the people of the Adirondacks can stay there and maybe a few more of us can afford to move in. It's an economic story, and how that plays out will determine the future."
Until now, Curley says he's only been able to come to the Adirondacks for at most three weeks out of the year because of the demands of his job. Once he's retired he plans to spend more time here where enjoys hiking, paddling, bicking and skiing. "The goal is to get there and stay there as much as we can," Curley said.
For North Country Public Radio, I'm Chris Knight.