Corrections or additions?

This article by Melinda Sherwood was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on July 12, 2000. All rights reserved.

Ray Douglas

The man responsible for bringing color to the New York Times is now

bringing his publishing expertise into our neighborhood. The former

vice president and CIO for the New York Times and one of the founding

members of USA Today, Ray Douglas, has launched a home-based

consulting firm in Princeton Junction, Douglas Group Associates

(www.dga2.com, E-mail: ray@dga2.com). It provides information

technology, business, and publishing expertise to the print media

industry. He’s also offering consulting to technology companies that

serve the publishing industry.

A former computer programmer, Douglas is serious about getting his

print clients to make the transition to digital news sources, but he’s

not writing off the old-fashioned, coffee-stained rag either. "I think

newspapers that serve the community and value have a good future ahead

of them," he says. "Clearly people are spending less time with a

newspaper, but those that have a mission and a brand that people

recognize, there’s a market out there."

Portable devices with LCDs capable of transmitting a lot of

information are going to play a big role in the next generation of

reporting, says Douglas. "Financial information, stock information,

and business headlines could be transmitted to you so you no longer

have to carry around multiple devices," he says.

Sending news stories by satellite was the novel technology when

Douglas broke into the biz back in 1981 when Gannett launched its USA

Today. "Back then, transmitting a newspaper in the middle of the night

via satellite to be printed in remote locations was something new and

untested," he says. "It being a color newspaper just added a whole new

level of complexity."

At the time he joined USA Today, Douglas was a computer programmer for

ATEX, but ready to leave the business. "You get tired of programming

after awhile," he says. "When you’re a programmer you sit in a cubicle

and write code all day and you don’t get a chance to see how the

applications affect people’s lives. Working in the publishing business

and acting as an integrator gives you chance to see those tools

actually used, and it’s a bit of a rush to see the copies coming off

of the press."

The son of an Air Force pilot, Douglas grew up in Virginia and has

lived with his wife in Princeton Junction for the past 10 years. He

has a degree in computer science but declines to provide his college

and class year for fear of credit identity theft. "A lot of that

personal information is being used to track you down on the Internet

and steal your identity," he says. "It’s business publications like

yours, full of information, that end up being a resource for these

people."

At USA Today, Douglas designed all of the initial publishing and color

systems. He left in 1990 to join the New York Times as its vice

president of systems. "They were about to undertake a 10-year plan to

fully rework the design and the technology behind the production of

the newspaper," he says. In 1998, he was named CIO for the company and

led implementation of its share services initiative, i.e. centralizing

the major functions, such as payroll, for the Times’ 42 separate

papers. He was also responsible for Y2K remediation and, of course,

the introduction of color in the newspaper.

Shortly after being promoted to CIO, however, the Times offered

Douglas a buy-out that included a two-year salary. "I’m 51 years old

and I thought this was the right opportunity for me personally," he

says. "I had done everything in the company that a technologist could

do. I had essentially managed and implemented all of the company’s

largest projects over a 10-year period."

After rising to one of the highest technology roles, Douglas felt he

still had a lot to give to the technology business. He’s now a one-man

show but has a second office in St. Augustine in Florida, where he

likes to spend a lot of time golfing. "It’s an opportunity to get

people out of the office and give people an opportunity to open up,"

he says. Douglas has people from around the country chiming in on

certain projects. He already has about a dozen. "I was hoping not to

be as busy as I a.m., I still want to get to Florida to play golf," he

says.

Working with print and digital publishers alike, Douglas wants to show

how to add value to their business by tailoring information to the

needs of their audience, and making it available on a real-time basis.

"I like to tell people you have to move at Internet Speed," he says.

"There’s an advantage to a first mover. I help people move quickly."

— Melinda Sherwood

Douglas Group Associates (DGA), 56 Reed Drive

South, Princeton Junction 08550. Ray Douglas, principal.

609-799-5575; fax, 609-799-5575. Home page: www.dga2.com.


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