David Chavern stepped into the daily newspaper wars not quite two years ago. Did the president and CEO of the News Media Alliance know what he was getting into?
"No, in retrospect. In a sense, I'm more optimistic than when I started," he said. "Clearly, I know the audience is there. There's more people consuming the product more than ever. I think the monetization problems are even harder than people thought they were. For a long time, it was just old newspapers [need to] just get digital. ... It is not evident what the future holds."
Who can blame him? He walked into the leadership of the newspaper industry's leading trade association at a point when it had seen its revenue drop about $30 billion -- annually -- from its peak a decade ago.
Chavern came aboard from a position at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, his last job serving as the Chamber's first president of its Center for Advanced Technology & Innovation. He has done a lot of jawboning, inside and outside the industry. And soon, he hopes he'll be spending a more time on Capitol Hill.
Chavern's News Media Alliance (the former Newspaper Association of America, renamed to leave "print" in the dust in late 2016) announced what seems to be a quixotic fight on Sunday, July 9. The venue was a friendly one, The Wall Street Journal. Robert Thomson, CEO of its parent, News Corp. (NWSA) , has been among the most outspoken critics of the growing hegemony of Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) and Facebook Inc. (FB) .