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Seismic Shifts in News Industry Continue
I also wanted to highlight a pretty big shift in the newspaper industry that Gannett kicked off about a week ago. Most of the newspaper chain’s properties will stop printing a Saturday edition, and instead put out a full replica edition online.
Tales of Journalism Past, Present and Future
It’s the holidays, and like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I want to share a tale of Journalism Past, Journalism Present and Journalism Yet to Come.
Let’s start with Journalism Past. For this, I take you way back to June 1994.
Former GateHouse VP Becomes Weekly Owner
Alain Begun has spent the majority of his career in marketing and business development, including a stint with GateHouse Media for about three years as the Vice President of Marketing and Custom Content for more than 500 local websites.
But he knew he wanted to launch his own publication at some point.
How To Help The Next Generation Thrive
News about the journalism industry is often dark and gloomy these days, with hedge funds gobbling up newspapers at a prolific pace while other publications — both print-focused and online — either closing up shop or dramatically reducing staffing and coverage, leaving the public to fend off misinformation and political and economic turmoil.
Introducing the Philanthropy & Newsrooms Playbook
The idea came about in late 2020 while overseeing the newsroom at Cascade Public Media. After checking in with several industry peers, I had been informed that a healthy percentage ratio of newsroom staffing supported explicitly by outside funding — such as journalism grants — was about 12 percent.
Meet the 143-Year-Old Startup
There are two ways you can view ownership of a community newspaper that has existed for decades (or for more than a century, even).
One view: the publication is a community mainstay, and has to remain what it always has been because that’s what people expect.
Support Small-Town USA By Backing the LJSA
Stakeholders in journalism, news, and the general welfare of a fact-based democracy have been beside themselves in recent weeks as a little-known bill that they hoped would slip its way into the broader Build Back Better plan was treated as little more than an expendable remnant.
‘Diversity makes journalism stronger.’
We’re starting off this edition with several big updates from current and former NewStart fellows, so let’s get right to it!
Local News Takes Center Stage
Welcome to the 93rd edition of the NewStart Alliance. When we started this little newsletter, hardly anyone reported on what we were focusing on — the community newspaper business.
This REALLY Matters
When our NewStart program was being formed a few years back, deals like the Sun-Times/Chicago Public Media one above were just a pipe dream.
Black and White and Undead All Over
This week I’m turning things over to recent NewStart grad Tony Baranowski who, as part of his yearlong master’s degree program, took a deep dive into what’s working at rural community newspapers across the Midwest.
A Surprising Goodbye
We’ve become pretty numb to seeing “we’re closing” columns penned by newspaper owners and publishers over the years. But when I saw one from an online news outlet yesterday, well, I admit I was a bit surprised.
Want to Help a Nonprofit News Startup? You Can!
Becky Pallack (NewStart class of ‘21) and Irene McKisson are work partners who co-founded a digital news vertical called #ThisIsTucson. It operates as a startup venture and learning lab under the umbrella of the Arizona Daily Star.
Gannett Sells, and People Take Notice
Greetings everyone, and welcome to another edition of The NewStart Alliance. I’m your host, Jim, and I’m glad you’re here.
This week we’re talking about a new report from Northwestern and Poynter stating that more newspapers are being transferred from corporate chains to local owners across the country.
Tips on Buying A Publication From a New Owner
Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of The NewStart Alliance. Apologies for the radio silence the last couple of weeks, but, well, it’s all your fault. Judging by the low open rate and the amount of out-of-office replies I received when I sent out our last newsletter, I decided to slow down production during the summer.
From Corporate Overlords To Ownership
I wanted to introduce you to another fellow in our second NewStart cohort. Brennan Stebbins, who lives in Joplin, Missouri, has been around community newspapers for seemingly his whole life. I mean, he wrote his first weekly column at the age of 14 for his hometown paper.
‘We Got A Newspaper!’
We’ve got A LOT to get to this week, including some excellent news from our inaugural cohort…
First up: NewStart fellow Crystal Good’s Black By God publication is officially in print! Her first edition of Black By God The West Virginian distributed across West Virginia last week.
This Subject Line Left Intentionally Blank
Today I’d like to start off by introducing you to another fellow joining our second cohort of NewStart students. As you will see below, Jan Risher has worn a lot of hats both inside the journalism industry and adjacent to it. But rather than hearing it from me, let’s just have her tell you in her own words.
Oh Snap: Startup Serves Local News to Young Audiences
After spending several years as the head of news at Snapchat, Xana O’Neill paused to ponder the problems the entire news industry is facing. She kept coming back to the notion that there is no platform 18- to 34-year-olds could turn to to get trusted information.
Finding Purpose After Tragedy
This week I’d like to introduce you to another member of our second cohort of fellows. You’ve already met Maggie and Larry. Today you’re going to hear from Alicia Ramirez, who is a web producer at CBS Los Angeles.
Is It The Best Option We Had? Absolutely.
About a year and a half ago, four weekly community newspapers in the Chicagoland area began the transition from a for-profit business called Wednesday Journal Inc. to a nonprofit called Growing Community Media.
I’d Like You To Meet Someone
Today we’d like to introduce you to another member of our second cohort of NewStart fellows.
Larry Graham spent the majority of his career leading sports departments in newsrooms across the country.
A Community Rallies to Save Its Anchor
Bob Anderson is not a trained journalist. He is a fisherman by trade. But for 22 years he successfully published a monthly newspaper in Harpswell, Maine, called the Anchor.
Sadly though, after the pandemic arrived and most happenings in this fishing community on Casco Bay were put on hold, Anderson decided to stop the presses.
Open To Claim Your (story about) Rewards
Churn is real, and it is a subscription-based publication’s worst nightmare.
You can do as much new user acquisition as humanly (or algorithmically) possible, but if you constantly lose as many subscribers as you gain, well, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Building Bridges in the Black Community
We’re going to lead off this edition with a NewStart update. In particular, we’re going to call your attention to a Columbia Journalism Review article published Thursday that focuses on one of our outstanding fellows, Crystal Good.
Paying For Your Audience (Isn’t a Bad Thing)
If you’ve worked in a newspaper newsroom at any point in your career, the following quotes may seem familiar to you:
“We don’t want to be perceived as promoting ourselves.”
Cashing In On Viral Stories
Our friends over at LION Publishers provided an interesting look at how Block Club Chicago made $100,000 thanks to a rogue alligator.
Here’s how it went down:
Searching For Small-Town Heroes
Poynter published a very interesting article this week that builds a strong case for the importance of small-town newspaper editors — the kind of community-focused people we are identifying and training through the NewStart program.
An Engaging Idea To Help Your Publication Thrive
We’ve got a surprise in this week’s Alliance newsletter. Bridget Thoreson, the Engagement Manager at Hearken, is stopping by to talk about network mapping. Don’t know what network mapping is or what it has to do with journalism — especially at your local news publication?
Meet a New Local News Owner (And NewStart Fellow)
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing the stories of new fellows entering our NewStart program as part of our second cohort.
That includes Maggie McGuire, who dropped some big news on Wednesday:
Feeding ‘Fred’ the News
As we reached the one-year mark of the pandemic shutdown in the United States, you probably read many pieces that looked back over the past year. From the tragic loss of loved ones to empty shelves at grocery stores to a completely new way of living our lives, COVID-19 impacted everything.
Is This the Future of Public Notices?
Hopefully you saw the link in last week’s newsletter about three newspaper chains striking a deal with a company called Column to streamline their public notices.
No Power? No Problem. Grab Some Coffee and News.
A year ago Max Kabat and Maisie Crow were featured in the New York Timesafter purchasing two West Texas newspapers, including the Big Bend Sentinel, and opening a cafe and cocktail bar in the middle of the town of Marfa.
Is it Time to Rethink Strategy?
The news this week of Alden Global Capital’s purchase of Tribune Publishing means more metro newspapers have been swallowed by a hedge fund.
So it goes.
Moving the Chains
You may have seen the news this week that Gannett sold off three newspapers in Oklahoma.
The three papers were purchased by a family-owned newspaper company called Reid Newspapers, which already owns seven other papers and operates two printing operations.
A Template for Local Journalism: The Welch News Serving a Struggling Market in WV
We’re kicking off 2021 with a story from our partners at the West Virginia Press Association about something near and dear to our hearts — helping local newspapers adapt and survive.
Local News, The Axios Way
A little while back I mentioned how some national players are encroaching on local news outlets’ territory and warned that if local outlets don’t get their acts together, they will be in big(ger) trouble.
How To Transition From Layoff To Newsletter Publisher
Craig Calcaterra wrote the HardballTalk baseball blog for 11 years. But in early August, he was part of NBCUniversal’s company-wide layoffs.
Defending the Digital Transition
A little over a year ago, the Chicago Defender made the decision to transition from print to completely online.
Our New Virtual Reality
One thing we at NewStart preach to our students (and to the industry at large) is the need for media outlets to diversify their revenue sources.
When One Door Closes, Another Opens
Amy Duncan used to work for Gannett as a vice
president in charge of a group of Des Moines Register weekly newspapers — publications that made a profit.
As you know, dear readers, I’m always looking for new or interesting business models that publications (and entrepreneurial journalists) can learn from as we try to ensure that journalism not just survives, but thrives.
When I started the NewStart program a little more than a month ago, in the thick of a global pandemic, trying to help lead from within my own media organization, working from home most days with twin 9-year-olds to care for, it felt a little insane.
You’ve probably read about the dire situation for alt-weeklies during the pandemic. Many of them have either stopped printing and gone online only, or have closed altogether.
This is how Dawaune Lamont Hayes describes the journalism industry these days:
“We’re on a sinking ship trying to build a solar-powered airplane.”
Last month the Rappahannock News, a weekly newspaper in Virginia, received 13 awards, including eight first-place honors, from the Virginia Press Association in its annual excellence in journalism competition.
When Joey Young was 27, his friends told him he was insane.
The reason? He wanted to buy a newspaper.
“Why sink a lot of money into that?” he remembers them asking.
The end of the decade is near, and journalism has survived (for the most part)! Congrats to each and every one of you who are still in the business!
We’re big fans of books here at NewStart. In fact, we’re pretty sure we’ve read all of them. Reading is fundamental, and whatnot.
I spent some time last week in the offices of the Mon Valley Independent, a six-day-a-week newspaper in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Mon Valley Independent is an interesting story.