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Helluva year: 2011 has been a doozy for publishers, and I write that from a place of mutual understanding.

This industry has seen yet another year of decreased revenue, lost advertising, layoffs, and the incessant drumbeat of "doom and gloom" from that peanut gallery known as the blogosphere. There are some who predict the death of newspapers by 2015. Others give a more generous estimation of 2040. And at least one has produced a color-coded global map that categorizes the world's nations based on when their newspapers will go the way of the dinosaurs. The United States is colored in red.

Despite all these qualified opinions, I talk to publishers every day who say they're not dead yet--not even close. There's no denying that the newspaper industry faces challenging times. Some blame the digital revolution, while others point file finger at newspapers themselves for failing to adapt quickly enough. What matters is not where file fault lies, but the future. And perhaps more than any other factor, leadership will be what drives that future.

In researching candidates for this Publisher of the Year feature, I got to hear from newspapers all over the globe that are reinventing their business models, creating new sources of revenue, reaching out to readers and advertisers, and choosing to define their own future rather than let the critics define it for them. I wanted to share a few of their stories with the rest of you, with the hope that you'll find inspiration, motivation, or maybe just a new idea to try out.--K.A.

Fort Myers, Fla.

A former reporter who moved to the U.S. from China as a child is helping breathe new life into The News-Press, a Gannett-owned daily in south Florida, by launching new brands and targeting specific consumer bases.

Mei-Mei Chan's strategy has been to capitalize on market segments such as dining and water lifestyles across multiple platforms, while bringing in revenue from outside ventures such as events and database development.

The News-Press launched a Hurricane Hub app, which was downloaded 30,000 times and brought in $15,000 from a single sponsor. In 2010, the News-Press Media Group exceeded advertising revenue and profit expectations, and even boosted Sunday home delivery numbers year-over-year.

Chart's resume includes executive positions at The Seattle Times, and reporting and editorial stints at the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, the Post Register in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the Commercial News in Danville, Ill. She was recognized by the Newspaper Association of America as Sales Executive of the Year in 2003. Chances are she's not stopping anytime soon.


Joplin, Mo.

While other newspapers were struggling with declining ad revenue and whether or not to charge for online content, Michael Beatty was just trying to keep a roof over his business after an EF5 tornado tore through his town on May 22.

Beatty, publisher of The Joplin Globe, had his leadership skills put to the ultimate test. Thirty-three Globe employees lost their homes; one lost his life. But the paper didn't miss a day of publication.

"Beatty worked tirelessly to put a tarp over the roof, dry clothes on his employees, and has led the charge in his community to rebuild Joplin. He brought in counselors for his staff, helped them sort out insurance forms, and kept the food coming and coffee pot running," wrote Globe editor Carol Stark.

Beatty went above and beyond his duty as a publisher, and single-copy sales have spiked as the community turned to the local newspaper in its time of crisis. In one of the deadliest and costliest tragedies to hit Missouri, Stark sees a strong message for the state of newspapers:

"Our job has been a noble cause in this tornado, but it's also been a good message for newspapers. We still deliver."

New York City

In the saturated New York media market, carving out a niche is critical to Success.

Gall Smith-Carrillo is publisher of Impacto, the oldest independent Hispanic newspaper ill the New York metropolitan area, and she knows her niche like the back of her hand. She took over the paper alter her father's death and quickly implemented key changes based on her readers' demands. The result was a paper with more in-depth journalism, a redesigned website, digital editions, and a big push in social media.

Advertising sales at Impacto have jumped 220 percent since Smith-Carrillo took the paper from flee to a paid subscription model. Circulation has also increased, and the paper is now audited for the first time in its history.

Perhaps the greatest measure of a publisher's success is in what she gives back to the community. Concerned with the younger generation's lack of reverence for the written word, Smith-Carrillo started working with local teens on a project that allowed them to design their very own pages in Impacto's print edition. The project helps kids find a creative outlet, while encouraging them to read and publish the news that matters to them.
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Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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