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Briefings: At Masslive, a (Promoted) Chief Abides…

The Big Kubosiak (via Twitter/@ed_kubosiak)

Ed Kubosiak, the editor-in-chief of Masslive, received a promotion and title bump to Vice-President of Content for the online news website. The news, announced in an article Masslive posted, underscores the growth of the news site. Execs heaped praise upon Kubosiak, a Southampton resident, for driving the site’s recent progress.

Masslive, once merely the online alter-ego of The Republican newspaper, has staked out an independent identity, perhaps changing the latter in the process. The parent company of both news organizations, Advance Publications, has been pushing this bifurcation to survive in the age of digital. Kubosiak’s promotion indicates Advance’s leaders believe it has worked at Masslive.

The financial success of Masslive is difficult to assess. Unlike The New York Times or Gannett, the owner of USA Today, Advance is privately held. There is some evidence that whatever Advance has been trying to do has earned some returns.

The Masslive/Republican dichotomy is part of Advance’s larger strategic shift to digital. In cities where the legacy print operations had stronger unions, such as Cleveland, this process has moved slowly amid charges of unionbusting. (The digital newsrooms lack union representation). In places like Alabama, where Advance owns several papers, the transition has almost come full circle with near reintegration of print and digital.

In Springfield, Republican journalists are unionized. However, they never put up any visible resistance to a frenemy newsroom down Main Street. An inadvertent consequence of realizing Advance’s strategy in the Pioneer Valley has been the development of a separate newsroom culture too, one over which Kubosiak has presided.

Masslive’s newsroom is at One Financial Plaza in downtown Springfield. (WMassP&I)

In the last few years, Masslive has expanded its presence outside Western Massachusetts. It has hired experienced journalists, most notably, in Boston and Worcester. The article on Kubosiak boasted about having higher readership than any New England peer save and its kid brother

The poor economics of journalism these days still loom, though. Advance consolidated Masslive’s top job with that of a site in Syracuse, New York. However, that move did not herald any significant newsroom cuts.

Early concerns that the statewide perspective would come at the expense of Valley coverage have not panned out. Masslive still relies on The Republican for hyperlocal reporting on many medium-sized communities. Yet, the site has launched its own deep dives into transportation and the Springfield Police Department.

Kubosiak grew up in Northampton and got his start at The Daily Hampshire Gazette, outside the immediate Springfield media ecosystem. Therefore, he approached the job as Masslive Editor-in-Chief without the same shibboleths, particularly on political coverage, often found among area outlets.

Not quite the glory days, but rivalry has revived the The Republican on some beats. (via wikipedia)

Masslive’s apparent temerity to report aggressively wherever possible has stoked intramural competition with its treebound sibling, too. That the two entities share a website and many Masslive stories appear in The Republican has not been a deterrent.

Regardless, this all drives clicks. Like many news websites, content milling remains unavoidable. Yet Masslive staff feel encouragement to pursue substantive stories.

Kubosiak’s new position will not, for now, take him out of the newsroom. He is expected to retain his editor-in-chief responsibilities. No new senior positions are being created. The Masslive article did not explicitly lay out Kubosiak’s new duties. However the title implies his new role will likely include overseeing material, beyond news, that attracts readers .

Clearly Advance execs like what Kubosiak has done so far.

“Ed has been instrumental in driving the growth of MassLive to the point where today we are among the largest news sites in New England,” Timothy Kennedy, Masslive’s president, told the website.