Corrections or additions?
This article by Melinda Sherwood was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper
on July 12, 2000. All rights reserved.
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
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
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
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
South, Princeton Junction 08550. Ray Douglas, principal.
609-799-5575; fax, 609-799-5575. Home page: www.dga2.com.
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