Home' Local Media Today : July 2009 Contents Newspaper entrepreneur:
A contradiction in terms?
Let me state up front that I’m not a Malcolm Gladwell acolyte, and as a rule I don’t
spend a lot of time in the business section of bookstores. However, I am a dutiful
reader of books given to me as gifts which is how I happened upon Gladwell’s blink.
In his penultimate book, I must admit that the best-selling author’s message is indeed
relevant to a LocalPoint Media initiative that will have a happy impact on many SNA
Gladwell’s advice is to avoid over-think-
ing management decisions by perfecting
the art of “thin-slicing”. At the risk of
vast oversimplification, this business jar-
gon can be defined as filtering the very
few factors that matter from a whole lot
of less-important variables.
At a recent meeting of LocalPoint Media
owners in Chicago, the investor group, comprised largely of SNA members, had the
opportunity to try its collective hand at “thin-slicing” through a number of interesting
new-business proposals that you will be hearing more about in the coming days and
While it’s too early to evaluate our “thin-slicing” skills, I can say with conviction that
I witnessed a group bound and determined to think out of the box. It was gratifying
to see the group utilizing the skills taught during Newspaper Next sessions and chan-
neling the wisdom gleaned from SNA’s Scandinavian study mission last summer.
Perhaps the best example of the group’s proactive mindset was its embrace of an idea
proposed by Valassis’ RedPlum division. In the recent past, an idea promoted by an
erstwhile competitor might have deep-sixed the idea from the outset. But since many
of us in the room observed first-hand this summer how a consortium of Scandinavian
media houses—all print competitors—worked together to develop several successful
on-line business models that have kept the internet pure-plays at bay in their markets,
we were more than ready to listen.
In the parlance of Newspaper Next, here’s the “problem to be solved”: After watch-
ing the internet pure-plays dismantle our classified verticals over the past five years,
it doesn’t require the clairvoyance of Nostradamus to recognize that the Sunday
coupon business is probably next on the hit list.
I won’t repeat what’s ably described on the front page as well as in Nancy Lane’s
column, but I am very optimistic that we will reach our goal of becoming THE one-
stop marketplace for on-line coupons. And, at least for the next ten minutes or so,
the field here in the U.S. is wide open. But blink, and the window of opportunity
may be closed
This may well be one of those rare opportunities to get in on a great idea on the
ground floor. Sometimes the opportunity goes unrecognized; think how different
Union Pacific railroad would look today had it offered financing to the Wright
Brothers 100 years ago. Sometimes a few industry visionaries recognize the opportu-
nity but can’t convince others to look beyond long-held sacred cows; we all know the
stories of how our industry could have created its own e-bay, Craigs List etc. but was
reluctant to partner with a competitor or afraid of cannibalizing existing business.
And sometimes the industry is guilty of over-thinking a decision—and, blink, the
proverbial window of opportunity slams shut.
So, we know that we must be ahead of the curve on our remaining categories of busi-
ness. Nostradamus would tell us that the constellations are aligned in our favor, and
we must not fail to act.
That’s why it’s exciting to see the quick response by SNA member newspapers to the
recently announced initiative by LPM to sell remnant on-line inventory through its
ever-growing network. In just the first ten days after the announcement, over 100
SNA websites have signed up for a program that I know will create a steady, monthly
revenue stream for SNA members and for LPM.
These initiatives—and more are to be announced in the next few weeks—will effec-
tively demolish the myth of ours as a lumbering profession, sclerotic in its decision
making. SNA, through its investment in Local Point Media, is showing the world
that newspaper entrepreneur is NOT a contradiction in terms.
SNA Board of Directors
he balance of positive-to-negative
reporting about the newspaper industry
is...well...out of balance. And, SNA
wants to help overcome the misperceptions by
pulling together the many good stories that
community newspapers have to tell and has
created a Positive Press Contest to do just
that. Deadline for entries is July 31.
“Let’s show businesses and consumers the
bright spot of our industry,” says Nancy Lane,
SNA President. “Community newspapers
have many good stories to tell and we need to
start telling them, loudly and frequently. Let’s
join together and change the perception.”
SNA wants to hear from you. Send your pro-
motional campaigns, videos, Web sites, press
releases, anything you’re doing to show your
readers and advertisers the value of communi-
Consider the following initiatives as good
Has your company implemented or
sponsored a program that has had a
positive impact in your community?
Creative campaigns that combat negative
press about newspapers.?
Have you initiated a program that
addresses advertiser concerns about
Have you conducted town halls or other
forums to speak directly to your readers to
discuss community issues?
The top programs will be highlighted at the
Fall Publishers’ and Advertising Directors’
Conference in Kansas City this September.
National advertisers and agencies will be
attending and SNA will showcase the strength
of member newspapers. “Best in Show” will
win a future webinar program customized for
your staff. Programs will be shared with SNA
membership via the SNA Web site following
Put Your Best Foot Forward
How To Enter
Entries should be sent to
Submit your program via PDF/screen
shots for print/online programs or
QuickTime format (.MOV) or Windows
Media Video format (.WMV) for videos
Deadline is July 31. Tanya Henderson is
reached at 804-266-1114
SNA launches Positive Press Contest
aimed at driving attention to the positive
community newspaper story. The message
will be shared with media buyers.
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