Paton is as straightforward with his audiences, and with the press, as he is with his employees. He can’t predict the future, he says. “People forget that ‘Digital First’ isn’t a strategy for the future, it’s a transition strategy. It takes you from here to here, but it doesn’t tell you what ‘here’ looks like,” he says, tapping the table, indicating different points in time. “If we have one gift at all at JRC, it is that we’re flexible. We’re not trying to figure out every piece of this. And we’re not stymied into inaction, or forced into inaction, because we can’t figure out every piece of it.”

This attitude—Paton’s kind of enthusiastic, shrugging optimism for the future—has trickled down to his employees. “Now, your guess is as good as mine as to whether he’s got it right, whether anybody’s got it right…. If somebody had gotten it right, everybody would have replicated it,” says Daily Freeman managing editor Tony Adamis. “Do I know whether it will work or not? I have no idea. But you know what? I’m happy to come to work every day, knowing that this is the path that we’re taking, and we’ll see.”

Correction: This piece originally misspelled the last name of The Register Citizen’s publisher. He is Matt DeRienzo, not DiRienzo. CJR regrets the error.

 

Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner