From Editor & Publisher
Last year, millionaires Jeff Bezos and John Henry purchased the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, respectively; the San Francisco Chronicle and Dallas Morning News both dismantled their paywalls; and the rise of mobile continued. If 2013 is any indication on how the new year will go, expect a lot of surprises, many more lessons learned, and innovations that will keep the industry on its toes.
Perhaps the ones practicing their pirouettes this very moment are the publishers—the men and women tasked with running their newspapers with smaller newsrooms and leaner budgets. E&P asked some of these publishers what 2013 taught them and what they’re working on for 2014.
Jim Porter, Canton (Ohio) Repository
Last year was all about unity for Canton Repository publisher Jim Porter, stating he saw the start of newspapers “synching” together. In October, the Repository and the (Akron, Ohio) Beacon Journal reached an agreement for the Repository to print the Beacon Journal.
“We once viewed the Beacon Journal as our competitor, but we now realize we need each other to survive and to thrive,” Porter said. “I only see more collaboration in the future.”
One of his challenges last year was ensuring his advertising staff and multimedia executives believed in selling their product.
“They need to really understand the power of the paper especially the reach and the position it has,” Porter said. “It’s about owning the paper’s brand when they go out there in order to make local business grow.”
The Repository set its paywall in 2011 with some adjustments made in 2012. Last year, the paper continued to experiment with new revenue strategies when Porter became publisher. After receiving several phone calls from businesses wanting a story in the paper, Porter took their requests and created an initiative called Stark 100, where 100 local businesses in Stark County, Ohio could provide their own copy to be published in the paper. According to Porter, the advertorials generated $100,000.
When it comes to cost savings, he urged his fellow publishers to sell more, not cut more. “Instead of cutting expenses, search for new revenue sources,” he said.
This year, Porter said he wants to focus on the paper’s strong, local content; continue with the collaborating on production whether it’s with printing or delivery; and to get back circulation and advertising.
He said he saw more opportunities in the industry especially when it came to digital, which he described as “complementary to print, not competitive.”