Home' Local Media Today : March 2009 Contents Are we ready for our close-up?
Despite the chilly breeze, we had a great conference in Florida. The weather was in
keeping with our current economic climate: bracing!
Listening to Jon and Rex Rust talk about the stirring origins of Rust
Communications during the family owner ’s session, I was reminded of the power
of Mission. A sense of history and purpose can sustain a person and, by extension,
an organization through difficult times. It’s during those difficult times that legends
No shrinking violet, former President Bill Clinton is said to be frustrated that he
never had a world crisis to cement his credentials as a great president. Setting aside
politics and one’s view of the man, perhaps there’s method to his resolve.
We can all agree that these are extraordinary times, and we should resolve, like our
42nd president, to transform this emergency—via firm action—into our legacy.
That may seem like an egotistical conceit, but—trust me—our successors will be
living with the consequences of inaction or timidity. We must not come up small.
Too many people—readers, employees, shareholders, whole communities—are
depending on us to get it right.
If you don’t step it up, be prepared for someone to deliver to you a version of
General Patton’s famous ultimatum during the drive for Berlin in World War II. To
a reluctant division commander who balked at his call for action, his response was
simple and direct: “Who do you want named as your successor?”
So while we take care to protect the core product, let’s take the initiatives now that
will bear fruit online when the economy ultimately turns around. The market will
reward bold action. Half measures will relegate us to the slow lane.
While Owen van Essen reports that traditional suburban weekly valuations are
between 1x and 2x print advertising revenue, Gordon Borrell informs us that the
marketplace rewards on-line revenue with a 5-6 x multiple. If that isn’t a call to
on-line action, I don’t what is! Resolve to become the number one provider of
digital products to consumers in your market, and do it profitably.
Here are merely three of many great ideas proposed at the conference that will help
you achieve that goal:
Become the web marketing expert for your local businesses. Train your staff to
understand—and then sell—Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine
Marketing programs. Small merchants want marketing support, not someone
merely selling them an ad. Attend the SNA Foundation’s free March 5 Webinar
about understanding web analytics.
Make your web site mobile-ready. This is not an expensive proposition. Readers
may be prepared to pay for news on their mobile devices. Certainly the payment
mechanism exists on most mobile devices. And the market is huge, and growing.
As we have been told repeatedly at SNA conferences: Invest a little, Learn a lot
and Skate to where the Puck is Going. This time, let’s get there first.
Become your markets’ on-line yellow pages and its on-line radio and television
station. Our entrepreneurial forebears back in the 20’s were the founders of local
radio. Some of their newspaper progeny in the ‘50s started broadcast television sta-
tions. History can repeat itself. Let’s transform ourselves into a platform agnostic
media house, ready for the 21st century.
So let me close with a question: Are we ready for our close-up? In the classic
movie Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson won an Oscar as the aging Hollywood
starlet Norma Desmond who surrounds herself with a small cadre of sycophantic
staff, deluding herself until the bitter end that she is still a Big Star. Is that our
fate—delusional, moribund newspaper magnates who merely took half-steps, hop-
ing that the internet would simply go away?
To hell with that! I know history’s judgment of us will be more along the lines of
Winston Churchill’s verdict on the RAF fighter pilots who saved his “Scepter’d
Isle” during the Battle of Britain: “This was their Finest Hour.”
chairman of the board
SNA Chairman of the Board
of them in...
At a loss of ideas to
INCREASE YOUR SALES?
ATTENTION SALES TEAMS!
Review your client lists
and you will see that you can
sell numerous pages with
this idea; perhaps even build
a pull-out section!
- Purchase a fence
- Change my windows
- Buy a solarium
- Change the garage door
- Redo the landscaping
- Buy a lawn-mower
- Do my Spring cleaning
- Repaint the house
- Renovate the bathroom
-Buy a spa
- Do my Spring
- Buy new patio furniture
- Purchase an air
- Sell my house, etc.
A FEW MORE IDEAS...
The story is also representative of the
type of person Davy is. A trained and
practicing lawyer with a potentially
lucrative prosecutorial career ahead,
Davy stepped out of law in 1983 and
into journalism when he took a report-
ing job with the tiny daily in Fulton
(MO). “There are many and complex
reasons for my decision not to continue
as a lawyer,” said Davy. “One of them
is that as a lawyer you are bound to rep-
resent your client to the best of your
ability even if you don’t think the out-
come is just. As a reporter and editor, I
am duty bound to revel in the freedom
to pursue the truth for its sake alone.
North County Times Publisher Peter
York, who nominated Davy for the pres-
tigious SNA award, is justifiably proud
of the selection and calls his editor ‘top
drawer’ and a ‘team player’. He com-
mends Davy’s writing and editing skills
and praises the high quality of content
despite the rough economic pressures to
do more with less.
He also acknowledged the impact that
Davy had on his community as he pub-
licly shared the story of his wife’s ill-
ness. “Kent has managed this newsroom
through a very challenging set of per-
sonal and professional circumstances
with effectiveness and grace. Last year
Kent lost his beloved wife, Joel Davis,
to cancer. He chronicled their journey
together in a series of columns that
moved the entire community, generating
hundreds of letters and Web comments.”
Celebrate Local Journalism
continued from page 1
Kent Davy is applauded by Arizona Daily
Star Editor & Publisher John Humenik as
he picked up his award at the Editorial
Excellence dinner held at the SNA Spring
Publishers’ Conference last month.
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