Some of the themes that Chris picked out from our conversation are themes that Pittsblog readers have seen before:
Most important of those is the need to distinguish between the material that the paper should cover (which is primarily local, and much less national or international) and the intended readership of the publication (which is not local). Historically, the shadows cast by the advertising, circulation, and editorial sides of the paper, respectively, were essentially identical. That's no longer true. The Post-Gazette now has a national and international audience for its local coverage. It could allocate resources accordingly.
Chris picked up on a couple of newer themes, one explicit and one implicit.
The explicit, "nuclear bomb" theme is that newspapers need to reconsider their most fundamental truth: That the editorial side should have nothing to do with the business side (i.e., advertising and circulation), and vice versa. Every other institution in Western society is being forced to reconsider fundamental truths; newspapers are no different. Chris and every other paid journalist would say: Wait! If the editorial side knows what the business side is up to, then the paper will pander to advertisers and lowest-common-denominator readers. We'll see sports on the front page (and sports on page 2, and on the editorial page, and on the business page, etc.). The Post-Gazette will turn into US magazine, with writers writing (badly) about themselves, and celebrities, and society balls, and Survivor contestants from Western Pennsylvania. The paper will ignore or under-report serious news about local politicians and will fail to investigate allegations of corruption in city government.
And in response, I'd say: I already read the Post-Gazette every morning. Tell me how the world would *change.*
The implicit, more subtle but far more important theme is that there is no one-size-fits-all short-term panacea for the crisis in print journalism. There is no magic bullet that will fix what ails the Post-Gazette, and the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Every paper and every region has its own special brew of problems and opportunities.
That's one reason (among many) why I cringe when I see the Post-Gazette
The biggest local business story of the day is buried in the Business section. United Airlines is taking over USAirways' nonstop West Coast routes -- which sounds like bad news, but which is, in fact, good news. (It would be bad news if USAirways dropped the routes -- and there was no demand to justify another carrier's picking them up.) Journalist Twittering is a distraction because it's about the journalists themselves. While we like great writers and reporters, we like you because you tell us about ourselves, not about you, and because you tell us what we need to know -- not what we think we want to know.
The future of the news, like the history of the news, is about the readers. The forecast for Burghonomics is unsettled, as it has been for a long time. But look West for change, not East, and not into the Internet cloud. The folks that United will ferry back and forth between Pittsburgh and the West Coast are the folks whose attention local media need to cultivate. (Not the folks that Delta is ferrying back and forth between Pittsburgh and Paris.) The wisest cheerleaders in Pittsburgh are cheering for stronger ties between the Burgh, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Or, you don't need a weatherman ... well, you know how that ends.