I just wanted to write a job description that included the words “blowing stuff up.”
That’s what Chris March’s new role will be at the New Haven Register and Journal Register Company’s other newsrooms in Connecticut.
He’s been promoted to Assistant Managing Editor for Disruption and is an integral part of a bigger newsroom reorganization announced last week.
Go ahead, poke fun at the future-of-journalism pretentiousness of that title. But we wanted to send a strong message to our staff and our audience. We must, and we intend to, disrupt how we’ve operated for decades.
“We can’t afford to think and act like a newspaper anymore,” Chris said. “We can’t keep doing things a certain way because ‘that’s how we’ve always done that.’ That’s the reality. When you look at the Journal Register Connecticut newsrooms like that, you start to see things that don’t make as much sense as when we started doing them or when we had a bigger staff. That’s what we have to disrupt, or rethink.”
That includes many aspects of our internal, print edition-focused newsroom operation. That includes how we gather news and how we present it. That includes our definition of “news” and “content” and “journalism.” And that most certainly includes how we interact with and treat our audience.
We’re shifting significant resources away from print and toward Breaking News, Community Engagement and Investigative and In-Depth Reporting. To start, Chris will be leading us through the changes in technology and process that are needed to pull this off.
“I think some of the things we’ve started to dismantle and rethink already as part of our newsroom reorganization, such as how we approach election coverage, moderate online comments and engage with the community, is going to start making some big noise in a really meaningful way for us.”
Chris is quite literally a newspaper kid. His mother, Nancy, is editor of The Mercury, a JRC daily in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and his father, Bill, is managing editor of The Daily Local, a JRC daily in nearby West Chester. “Growing up, they told me to get into anything but writing and newspapers, because of the hours and low pay. And I didn’t argue with that, because why would I?” he said. “But when I was captain of my high school cross country team … I started writing and publishing a weekly newspaper. And that was it. By accident, I stumbled across that joy of capturing a little community in words and watching everyone pass it around and talk about it. I haven’t wanted to do anything other than that since. Plus, it’s cool to rebel against your parents, right?”
Chris graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He wrote about the punk and indie music scene for absolutepunk.net in college, which led to some freelance work in music and entertainment.
In 2007, he joined The Mercury as Promotions and Marketing Coordinator, and in May 2010, he moved to Connecticut to work at the New Haven Register as an online producer. In August of that year, Chris was named to Journal Register Company’s Idea Lab, which equips members with tech tools and frees them up to spend 25 percent of their work week experimenting on new ideas.
He lives in New Haven.
“My modus operandi is discovery and exploration. That extends from music and travel to beer and community journalism. I like being one of those people who sniffs around for the little places where truth and all-out-radness are waiting to be discovered. That’s why I like what we’re doin here at JRC and the New Haven Register right now. We’re exploring. And we’re discovering. And I’m very proud to be a part of that,” he said. “I grew up at a dinner table where the talk was often about how the newspaper business is broken, and a dead end. Now I sit down at the dinner table and talk about how we’re fixing it, and making it a road with possibility and promise.”