Rob Curley is a very nice guy.
I met him just once.
Last year, both of us were speakers at the same Canadian Newspaper Publishers conference.
After his terrific presentation, I invited him to run a “Day with Rob Curley” in our periodic Harvard one-day seminars for our best clients.
Unfortunately, his crazy job prevented any assurance about any specific date too much in advance, and the one-day seminar idea didn’t work even though he was willing to do it.
So today when I read the news of his departure from The Washington Post, I was very sad.
Here we have another online news pioneer leaving a first-class newspaper company at the time that the elephants need a lot of of Rob Curleys.
Minutes after I posted my “bad news” comment, I got a nice message from Rob wanting to talk.
And he called very soon to tell me the full story.
As I said to him, I am not interested in the inside politics of the Post, but in a more global and disturbing trend: why so many Rob Curleys are leaving big newspapers and going … to new “pure digital media projects” (like Mario Tascon from Prisacom, Gumersindo Lafuente from El Mundo or Juan Varela from ADN in Spain in the last few months).
The good news here is that Rob is not leaving the newspaper industry, and he has two interesting remarks:
First, at a small newspaper, you don’t have too many layers of bureaucracy and things are done and implemented on the spot.
He likes this.
He was raised in this culture and he expects this way of life in Las Vegas.
Second, if you do great things at a big paper, other papers will say: “Yes, it’s great but we don’t have the resources, talent and visionaries that the big guys have.”
So, going to the Las Vegas Sun, Rob told me, is going to be great because no one will have any excuse not to do it.
If the Las Vegas Sun can do it, anybody can do it …
Well, I said to Rob, if the Las Vegas Sun is a rich family-owned company that has just hired some of the most talented new media people in the country, then it is not the standard local U.S. newspaper company owned by the big publicly-traded newspaper chains that are killing print and online newsrooms.
And this is, again, the good news.
A local newspaper like the Las Vegas Sun can become the new mecca for the next generation of online news conquistadores.
When I told him that three years ago we presented his Kansas case in our INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS Global Report, Rob said: “Look, Juan, come to Las Vegas and in a few months you will be able to report about the most innovative online news operation in the country.”
And for this reason Rob is heading for the Far West.
So, good luck and God speed!
Tags: ADN, Gumersindo Lafuente, INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPERS, Juan Varela, Las Vegas Sun, Mario Tascon, Prisacom, Rob Curley, THE WASHINGTON POST, el-mundo