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Charlotte Observer publisher Ann Caulkins joins The Good News Is podcast

The Charlotte Observer building at 600 South Tryon Street , Charlotte, shot on 07.07.14.
The Charlotte Observer building at 600 South Tryon Street , Charlotte, shot on 07.07.14.

Next month, the Charlotte Observer will move a couple of blocks down Stonewall Street to its new home in the NASCAR Plaza building.

It’s a physical change, but also a cultural one.

The Observer has sat at the corner of Stonewall and Tryon since 1927 (the current building replaced the original one in 1971) and for most of those years it churned out a printed paper, the main source of news for many, many people in North and South Carolina.

Nobs bldg pre-1971
The original building.

half built
The current building, half built.

Now the paper isn’t even printed at 600 S. Tryon St. anymore. It comes from a facility up in University City. Technology — and, obviously, the Internet — changed the way people get news. I can’t think of a single friend my age who gets the paper delivered.

People think the industry is dying. I can’t tell you how often I get a response along those lines when I tell someone what I do for a living. (It’s not dying. It’s changing. Quickly.)

So why in the world would you want to be the publisher of a newspaper in this fast-changing, I would say scary, time? That’s what we talked to Charlotte Observer Publisher and President Ann Caulkins about this week on The Good News Is.

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“But the reason I got into newspapers and the reason I stayed in is the mission of what we do has stayed the same since the beginning of time — and certainly since I got into it in 1984 — and that is serving the community with great news and journalism and information, and we do that better than anyone else.”

Yes, Caulkins is mine and Sarah Crosland’s boss and, yes, it was interesting interviewing our boss, but Caulkins was candid in our conversation. Like her thoughts on the old building and why the Observer needed to move.

“The way it looks and the way it feels is for an old newspaper and older newsroom and the old ways we operated in ad divisions,” she said. “And what we needed was a multimedia center, we needed it to be creative and collaborative, and we needed it to be fresh and new.”

And on what the future holds for the Observer.

“There will be a daily printed paper for some time to come. How long, I don’t know,” Caulkins said. “We have more readership than we’ve had in history, the 130-year history. That’s why we must diversify, so we continue to have the great readership and if we have that great readership then we can continue to impact our community like we always have.”

We dive way deeper into the Charlotte media scene, new media competition and the move with Caulkins on this week’s podcast, be sure to give it a listen on SoundcloudiTunes or Stitcher.

We also talked about:

– My Hawaii trip.

– Outdoor adventures you can have in and around Charlotte.

– House Bill 2 and the national reaction it’s caused (it’s not good).

– What you should be doing this weekend (it involves food trucks).

The Good News Is — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast with a similar mission to what we do here at C5: To get you CharlotteSmart, fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s hosted by Corey Inscoe and Sarah Crosland.

As always, you can find our episodes on SoundcloudiTunes and now Stitcher. You can follow us on Twitter @TheGoodNewsCLT, on Instagram @TheGoodNewsCLT, on Facebook and you can shoot us an email to thegoodnewsisclt@gmail.com.

Photos: Mark Hames/Charlotte Observer; Charlotte Observer file; Deborah Triplett

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