On The Road In NY — Sort Of

The Relevance Project went on the virtual road today to New York state to deliver two presentations to community newspapers. (Attendees deserve extra points for attending a workshop on a Friday afternoon!)

The “visit” marked the debut of an emerging strategy powering the Community Forum, a potential transformative business model that local media can adopt to be more Relevant and effective.

And participants received an update on The Relevance Project Revenue Resource.

The presentation details:

Community Forums & Community Engagement
Relevant newspapers are the ones that purposely demonstrate they are THE Community Forum for the public they serve. Sharpening a strategy to engage citizens in meaningful ways is the indispensable twin of trusted journalism. But it’s not easy to maintain a program of civil, civic conversations on issues of importance. It takes discipline, resolve and, yes, earnest listening. Learn from the creator of a 15-year initiative called the Public Square and help The Relevance Project advance the cause of the Community Forum.

Revenue Resources from The Relevance Project
Find out the “10 Things You Should Know” about The Relevance Project, an initiative of the Newspaper Association Managers. Most of this workshop focuses on The Relevance Project’s Revenue Resource 2021, which delivers promotions and advice aimed at advancing community newspapers and their hard-charging staffs. There’s also a surprise at the end that allows participants to judge just how well they score on the new “Relevance Meter.” The Revenue Resource also is a result of partnerships with Metro Creative Graphics, Coda Ventures and Pulse Research.

Thanks to the New York Press Association and Michelle Rea for the invitation and opportunity to exchange ideas with members.

These presentations are adaptable to other newspaper associations’ needs. They also could spark important conversations on how newspapers are winning back their Relevance — and what to do if they fall short.

The Relevance Project is available.

–Tom Silvestri

Trend? Association Opts For Membership Change

Change usually begets change among newspaper associations.

Curtailment of printed publications, the rise of digital outlets, revenue concerns, and a desire to diversify the ranks of members are causing press trade groups to contemplate redefining what constitutes association membership.

Add the South Carolina Press Association to the list of the latest to adopt major change. And, the California News Publishers Association is likely next to be next.

In South Carolina, monthly and bi-monthly publications are now active members. Other changes include adding a Diversity Committee as a standing group of the Association, allowing printed magazines to join as associate members, updating communication methods from fax/mail to email, and using more gender inclusive terms.

“We think we’re in the top third of the associations looking to break new ground,” SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers said in a telephone interview. “The time has come for us to do more to invite minority-owned newspapers.”

Rogers said the actions represented the biggest constitutional change at SCPA since it admitted free publications years ago.

“The Board and SCPA staff have spent the last year studying a number of membership issues related to print and digital news organizations,” SCPA reported in its March 25 newsletter.

Allowing monthly and bi-monthly newspapers to become active members required membership approval because it is a change to the SCPA Constitution. Approval occurred during the Association’s annual business meeting on March 31.

Active members have voting rights, while a different contest celebrating excellence exists for associate members to enter.

The Association said keeping membership totals stable are “vital to the health” of SCPA. “Growing the membership will help keep dues, contest and event fees low for all SCPA members to encourage participation,” the Association added.

SCPA lost nine members last year when they went out of business. Rogers said he was happy to report that two weeklies joined in March. In all, 15 dailies and 82 weeklies comprise SCPA’s active members, Rogers said.

The approved change would make some current associate members eligible for active status. “It would also allow SCPA to provide better support to Black, Latinx and other minority-owned print news outlets that do not qualify for membership under current SCPA Constitution because they do not publish at least weekly,” the Association said. The S.C. Advertising Network, for example, might consider “special add-on buys” in monthly and bi-monthly papers.

Added considerations could come from future recommendations advanced by the Diversity Committee, given its permanent status.

Finally, SCPA noted the Association’s revisions do “not change S.C. laws and codes that relate to legal/public notice advertising. In South Carolina, to receive public notice/legal ads, a publication must be published at least weekly in a printed newspaper format.”

In California, the state News Publishers Association will vote this month on proposed amendments to the CNPA bylaws that would:
“Acknowledge mixed print and digital subscriptions and days of publication for digital products. They also consider Active Members to include community news outlets that serve non-English readers with ‘content that is not necessarily California focused, but is of importance to predominantly Californian readers or the specific audience or demographic in California that the publication serves.’ “

“The revision also notes that the publisher of content in a language other than English ‘must certify that either the content published by the applicant is either principally focused on California or their readership is principally based in California,’ ” the Association added in its April 6 newsletter.

The bylaw changes will be put to active members in a digital vote and tallied at the annual business meeting on April 29.

–Tom Silvestri

Author’s note: Do you know how hard it is for a pet owner to not type SPCA when writing about the South Carolina Press Association?

Wanted: Answers To These Recovery Questions

2021 is rebound time.

Good.

But where should local media focus on when it comes to its own recovery?

After enduring the pandemic and complicated upheavals of 2020, lots of rebuilding blocks exist.


Enter the American Press Institute with a well-done report released this week that presents seven questions “to help local media rebound in 2021.”

In essence, API is setting the roundtable for earnest conversations to spark improvements. In turn, newspaper trade associations can play key roles in bringing together newsrooms to figure out the best actions and then call attention to resulting victories.

“This report is meant to provoke those discussions and provide a starting point for the urgent work of rebuilding and reconceiving journalism in a way that recognizes our changed world,” author Jane Elizabeth writes.

Spring is a busy time for press association programs, so organizers would be wise to examine the API’s questions to shape them into conference themes, provocative workshops and idea exchanges. Here they are:

How will we hold onto the audiences we gained during the major news events of 2020?

How will we target and fight the most prevalent misinformation in our communities?

How will we rebuild understaffed beats like health, education and state government?

What will be our rapid response to the diversity, equity and inclusion issues within our own industry and in our community?

How will we build our ability to produce important investigative journalism?

How can we add more resources to our staff after years of layoffs and the potential for more?

How will we care for the mental health of our people?

The API report offers tips on how to get started tackling each question, elaborates on the issues, and welcomes advice that can be shared with all newsrooms. Read for yourself here.

The nonprofit educational organization’s mission is to transform news organizations for an audience-centered future. The intended jumpstart report makes the bold assertion that “…no media organization has been battered more than the local newsroom.”

It then describes a worrisome current state. “In many local newsrooms, conversations about rebuilding after 2020 aren’t happening, or are focused primarily on narrow questions such as how and when journalists will return to a physical newsroom.”

Newspaper associations are in the best position to help advocate for positive changes that uplift their members. Many are community newspapers that performed heroically during the pandemic.

I would add at least one question to API’s list to make it a nifty eight by looking out:

How can news coverage help communities recover and rebound so they also are healthy again?

After all, as the community goes, so does the newspaper’s future.

Relevance.

Thanks to API for sticking a fork in “a year of battering.” And for asking this:

What’s next?

–Tom Silvestri

We’re In Transition; Patience Requested

A novice in WordPress is taking over the posting of Relevant Points.

Me.

Please bear with The Relevance Project during this transition. It is definitely a learn-as-you-go process.

The change also gives me a chance to thank Layne Bruce for his almost-a-year of posting the Relevant Points. Layne is the behind-the-scenes administrator of Newspaper Association Managers (NAM) and with that came the duty of setting up The Relevance Project website, which includes the Relevant Points blog.

Layne has been rock-solid in his support of The Relevance Project, even as it often competed with his day job as executive director of the Mississippi Press Association. It is an understatement to say The Relevance Project’s online presence is because of Layne Bruce. He is indispensable.

Now, with nearly 120 blog posts to its credit, Layne suggested The Relevance Project’s executive director should be on his own to create, post and expand the Relevant Points. I agree.

Part of the deal includes Layne staying on to handle The Relevance Project’s major online projects that require his expertise. For example, we are discussing a site update and a different order to the material in the Revenue Resource 2021 section. Stay tuned.

What does this mean for the blog — besides rookie mistakes? I’m hoping the Relevant Points will be even more relevant to the audience with selected topics. And more frequent with updates and more selective with the summary newsletter that is sent to the NAM email list.

The ultimate goal for Relevant Points is to be a must-read, especially when it comes to noting the good work being done by our associations.

In the meantime, know the door is always open to your suggestions on how to sharpen the informative Points.

A big thanks in advance.

Now, where is that publish button…

–Tom Silvestri

This Newspaper CEO Whacks Negative Perceptions

Did you ever watch an informative presentation and think afterward:

Gee, I wish I had given that?

Or:

Wow. That message hit it out of the park.

I did in February, after reviewing Matt McMillan’s “Flipping Negative Industry Perceptions.” He delivered the welcomed presentation during the winter joint conference organized by the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa Newspaper associations.

Don’t let Matt’s simple, inconspicuous title throw you.

His Relevant Points about reputation management carry plenty of wallop.

McMillan is the Minnesota-based CEO of Press Publications, Northstar Media, Kanabec Publications and Sentinel Publications. In short order, McMillan’s assessment takes apart several myths that frustrate newspaper people everywhere.

His list:

  • Newspapers are dying.
  • Thousands of newspapers have closed.
  • No one reads newspapers anymore.
  • And if they do, they’re old people who turn first to the obituaries.
  • Newspaper ads’ effectiveness is uncertain.
  • Newspaper ads underperform digital campaigns.
  • There are jobs at newspapers? You’re kidding, right?

Heard any of these?

McMillan builds a robust rebuttal by citing research, his company’s experiences, industry advocate conclusions, best practices, promotional campaigns, articles and commentaries, testimonials and effective recruitment campaigns to attract talent to newspapers.

(Happy to report The Relevance Project was included as a reliable source.)

I followed up by phone with McMillan, who acknowledged he accepted an invitation from Minnesota Newspaper Association Executive Director Lisa Hill to confront the negativity so community newspapers can make stronger cases for their vital roles — and successes.

It also helped that McMillan’s company was working on a similar project showing the strength of the newspaper audiences and collecting testimonials from satisfied customers.

McMillan thinks it is essential for newspapers to “use our own platforms” to improve reputations and to correct misguided or incorrect statements about community publishers.

He suggests this discipline: Refute one negative every week with a positive. Use your platforms to build trust.

And, do more when you can.

“We can’t just be reactive,” said McMillan, a past president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association and a board member of America’s Newspapers. “We need to be more proactive in getting our message out.”

An example, he noted, is the annual survey his company conducts with its approximately 100 employees. The consensus in 2020?

“We need to be more relevant” to our readers and communities, McMillan said.
Say that again:

Relevant.

The rallying call led to a series of “Best of…” contests celebrating top businesses and organizations in communities. It also prompted a concerted effort to produce news reports that were more forward-looking to “try to stay ahead of what’s coming” with original coverage “you can’t find anywhere else.”

Positive encouragement attracts positive possibilities, he added. Keep that in mind whenever confronting naysayers.

McMillan was encouraged to see his industry rally when the pandemic roared in 2020. He hopes that energy and determine can apply in 2021 to flipping any or all negative news about newspapers.

“Talk audience,” he added. “Media is audience.”

McMillan is willing to share his presentation with other associations at future conferences. Just keep in mind this:

Nothing supersedes an industry “expert” like the convictions of a feet-on-the-ground, I’m-mad-as-heck-and-not-taking-it-anymore newspaper manager.

—Tom Silvestri

ADDED BONUS: Click below for Matt McMillan’s presentation. We thank him for sharing it with Relevant Point readers.

A Women’s History Month Tribute

The Relevance Project celebrates the women who lead newspaper and press associations in North America.

What better time to pause and recognize this inspiring group of newspaper advocates than during Women’s History Month.

For this Relevant Point, we asked executive directors of the Newspaper Association Managers the following question to mark the annual March salute:

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER WOMEN INTERESTED IN BECOMING LEADERS AND ADVANCING IN THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY AND LOCAL NEWS OPERATIONS IN GENERAL?

The responses mixed personal experiences with insightful thoughts about an industry that continues to transform but could do so more effectively with greater diversity and different perspectives.

We are honored to present the following advice:

EMILY BRADBURY, Kansas Press Association:

Always remember that your voice is needed and you belong. Imposter syndrome is real and it is imperative that you find supportive mentors to help you navigate difficult feelings and situations.

It is also our obligation to turn around and help others through the door and to ensure that other marginalized voices are represented in our work and workplaces.

LAURIE HIEB, Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association:

My first job was in radio when the population of females in that industry was minimal. I came in with a degree in broadcast journalism with big goals and hopes. But other than the sales department, I was the only female on staff for on-air work.

I quickly realized it wasn’t an environment to grow in, so I moved to Portland to work in public broadcasting. There, I was hired by a strong, full-of-life female who stood a mere 5 foot, 2 inches. I watched her, with a fierce pit-bull attitude, stand up to 6-foot-3 men at a time in the overall workforce that was not viewed as “acceptable.”

As it turned out, the lessons I learned working for her have molded me into the person I am today. She taught me to think big, surround yourself with positive, strong people, and never settle for the expectations of others. It’s advice I share with others.

Those lessons have served me well throughout my 28-year career, especially after serving on several boards and in countless meetings where I was the only female at the table. I like to think big and put myself in situations where I am challenged.

Today, I am proud to say that I am a part of the women executive directors leading newspaper associations across the country, a group that has more than tripled in the last 15 years.

DARCIE HOFFLAND, Wyoming Press Association:

When I started in newspapers immediately after college, I quickly felt (and forgive the expression) there was a good old boys club in leadership in the industry. My bosses were all male for almost the decade I spent at my first newspaper. However, after working in the ad department for about three year, I was promoted to ad director. I’ve always been one to brave new paths and butt heads when I felt it necessary. Many times I felt like the black sheep, but I believe this is what helped me become a leader.

I believe women have great organizational skills, intuition, creativity and an adaptability that makes us great newspaper advertising sales execs. Further, those same characteristics make us great leaders in the industry.

My advice to other women wishing to advance in the industry is to not be afraid to take chances. Even though I have failed at times, I believe I’ve made the most progress after lessons were learned from the biggest mistakes or flops. Also, while I don’t consider myself a patient person, I believe patience is vital to success. You have to be prepared to play the long game and overcome frustrations, setbacks and disappointments.

Secondly, I don’t believe in having my toes stepped on. To do the best job, you’re going to need the best people helping you and give credit where it’s due. There are times when someone else is going to have a better skill-set for a situation or project. Success is success, whether you’re on your own or you have help. Believe in your team, empower them, and recognize the importance of cohesiveness within your department and organization.

My final thought is that if you are passionate about what you are doing, you will go a long ways – you will advance. My passion is newspapers and I love my home of Wyoming. I truly believe this allows me to do good things as executive director of the WPA.

LYNNE LANCE, National Newspaper Association:

The advice I give anyone about this business is to learn EVERYONE’s job, they are all important.
I had lunch with a student that was in journalism and she wanted advice (she wanted to be a reporter). I told her, learn photoshop, learn to take pictures, learn excel, learn marketing skills, study InDesign.

Absorb as much knowledge as you can. Don’t be afraid to have a voice and offer help in any department.

FELICIA MASON, Alabama Press Association:

Proceed with confidence.

If you behave as though you are equal in every way to your male counterparts, you are likely to be given the respect you deserve.

I have actually found (for the most part) that the newspaper industry is better than most in recognizing the value of women and creating a level playing field for all employees.

Leadership roles are generally given to those who do not mind making decisions, even when they are difficult ones. Show your confidence that you are willing and able to take a stand, move projects forward and admit when you make mistakes.

MONICA NIEPORTE, Ohio News Media Association:

Do what you can to make sure your readers feel a connection to your product and to you. Show up at community events and be visible as a community leader. Make an effort to reach out to and meet new leaders such as a new chamber or tourism director, a new superintendent, mayor, etc.
Make sure the content of your product is relevant to the lives of your readers and covers the things that are of interest to them or they will look to social media instead. If you can’t answer the question “Why should I care about this?” then neither can they.

MICHELLE REA, New York Press Association:

America’s news consumers no longer think that the news media represents them, and the lack of diversity in our industry is a huge contributor. Advancing women’s leadership in news organizations has never been more important.

Newspaper readership is tied to representation – seeing or hearing from someone who looks like you is important. The imbalance in the newspaper industry – the lack of diversity in general and lack of gender diversity in particular – has made the news media largely irrelevant to many people.

More diversity in newsroom culture, more diversity in news coverage, more female voices in the news, and more female perspectives on the way to cover a story, will make newspapers and news organizations more relevant. Any newspaper seeking to be relevant to its readers needs to reflect the audience we seek to serve.

The data is clear – gender equality in the newspaper industry is far off. What can we do?
Women need to support other women – we need to raise one another up, and channel our collective power to increase the number and role of women in our industry.

MOLLY WILLMOTT, Association of Alternative Newsmedia:

Seek out successful women in all professions, learn from them, talk to them, and follow their lead – as the challenges we face are often universal.

Reach for the hands that are out ready to help, and don’t forget to have your hand out as well to those coming behind you.

Added tribute:

You can read the 2021 proclamation from President Biden by clicking here.

—Tom Silvestri

SD Series Showcases Newspapers’ Relevance

Dave Bordewyk wants to have the same conversation with all of the publishers who support the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

They will describe Relevance in 2021.

The association’s executive director most likely will ask the five questions that he posed to an inaugural group of five SDNA members who provided vivid front-line insights.

The answers nailed the realities of operating community newspapers and showcased the passion powering an indispensable service to the public.

Here are Bordewky’s questions:

Why does a community need a newspaper?

What makes a good newspaper?

Why should people pay for your newspaper when they can find plenty or news and information for free?

What is the most difficult challenge you face as a newspaper publisher/editor?

What about the future? What will it take for community newspapers like your to survive and be successful?

The South Dakota association’s website features at the top of its home page the publishers and their answers to one of the questions. The accompanying photos, which capture the operators in their respective community, are eye-catching in displaying personalities.

The project, Bordewyk said, predates the pandemic, which interrupted adding publishers to the series labeled, “Newspapers come together for a conversation with…”

In addition to being displayed online, the initiative distributed a series of five 3-column-by-10-inch promotions that SDNA members were encouraged to publish. “We had good participation,” Bordewyk said. “We heard from the communities, too.”

The executive director plans to continue the series this year with the stretch goal of reaching all 80 publishers and owners.

“Newspapers are so essential to their communities they serve,” he said in a telephone interview. “We can do a better job of conveying to the public that these publishers care deeply about their communities where they live and work as well.”

In the 2021 version, Bordewyk is thinking of adding video interviews that can demonstrate digital Relevance. The “Your Newspaper, Your Community…Essential Partners” segments also can be used at conferences or serve as “commercials” during workshops.

In putting the questions to publishers, he asked them to “give us your honest answers and not chamber of commerce-type responses.”

No problem.

Consider this answer to why people should pay for newspapers.

“It’s not just about the information,” replied Kelli Bultena, the publisher of two weekly newspapers located in Tea and Lennox. “It’s about how it gets to you. A good newspaper needs to be able to support a staff of good people. Paying for your local newspaper provides a means for the newspaper to pay its staff, care for its offices, and give back to the community.”

Or these two answers to what is the most difficult challenge:

“As society and technology continue to evolve, so does the way people get their news and information,” said Beu Ravellette, general manager of Ravellette Publications that publishes six weekly newspapers. “We must stay up to date with how the next generation receives and reads our product. We must always be looking for new and innovative ways to reach our audience and provide them with the news they want and information they need.”

Added Letitia Lister, publisher and part-owner of the Black Hills Pioneer: “Assuring people that we are not dying and that we are thriving in most communities. We have more subscribers than ever before. We just have to make sure public truly understands that we are a valuable piece of the fabric of the communities we serve. And if you don’t like newspapers, just ignore them and they will go away. Forever.”

The misguided “dying” label or comments alleging newspapers are fading away are a constant battle — and frustration — for Bordewyk when dealing with state legislators. He intends to use the publisher voices and their statements to knock down those perceptions at the next legislative session.

“The more we can do” to spotlight newspapers and their contributions, the better an association can advocate for their members and the newspaper industry, he added.

South Dakota’s concept can be a worthwhile exercise throughout all of NAM. Heck, it would make a great Community Forum series orchestrated by associations featuring publishers and editors.

Hmmmmmmmm.

—Tom Silvestri

Be The Forum On This Newsroom Debate

If ever there was a topic to borrow for a newspaper association convention or news workshop, it’s the Knight Foundation’s “Rebuilding Trust in America: The Challenge for Journalists.”
It first aired March 16.

Resist the urge to dismiss views from “big media.”

Trust is a local value as well.

By many accounts, the debate over objectivity is raging in newsrooms as generational and society change occurs, once-dependable institutions are challenged, misinformation perpetuates online, and politics remain divisive.

First, do this:

Watch the Knight program here.

Second, read this commentary, “A Reckoning Over Objectivity, Lead by Black Journalists,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Wesley Lowery, one of the Knight panelists.

Then, orchestrate programs with those in your state or province already dealing with the disagreements over objectivity, fairness, identity, journalism’s self-imposed limitations, advocacy, commentary and Op/Eds, and the reporting of truth. (Feel free to add to this list.)

Embedded in the overall debate is the call for newsrooms’ diversity to reflect communities they serve.

The Knight program also mentioned legislative actions in various statehouses confronting election security lapse or voter suppression attempts. What’s the responsibility of the reporting in these controversies?

The Knight program started with a discussion involving journalists from the Los Angles Times, “60 Minutes,” and CNN.

It added questions from student journalists attending college who appeared on screen one by one.
Pay particular attention to what’s on the minds of tomorrow’s newsroom leaders.

In all, the Knight format can be adapted by program organizers during the spring batch of conferences.

Just don’t ignore the debate.

It would be interesting to see whether the subsequent conversations are similar or different depending on issues in the respective states and provinces.

Judging from the Knight program, you may need more than one discussion to fully digest the issues and the work ahead.

Extra credit goes to associations already helping to rebuild trust where it’s needed. That’s Relevance in 2021.

-Tom Silvestri

NENPA Unites Its Communities With A New Portal

Linda Conway’s new membership portal is a classic case of looking for a particular answer only to find a much bigger solution.

The executive director needed a better membership database for the New England Newspaper & Press Association.

Instead, she is now launching a new association hub for 400 newspapers in six states that also can be used by affiliate groups and sponsoring vendors.

“I stumbled upon it,” Conway said, adding that after seeing a demonstration and conducting comparison research she hired Tradewing to provide the new networking, resource-sharing and virtual events platform.

San Francisco-based Tradewing calls itself the “leading community and video platform for associations designed to drive member engagement.”

Conway isn’t wasting any time to put the portal in play. Members must use it to register for — and attend — the association’s convention April 8-9. The portal handles all of the processing including the sign-ups and credit card payments for a transaction fee.

Continue reading “NENPA Unites Its Communities With A New Portal”

The Director Q and A: Steve Nixon

NAM’s Relevance Project is honored to spotlight executive directors leading newspaper trade associations throughout the United States and Canada.

The Q&A series starts with Steve Nixon, the executive director of the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association as well as the president of Newspaper Association Managers since 2020. Normally, the NAM term for its top officer is one year, but Steve agreed to stay on for 2021 because of the pandemic.

We caught up with President Nixon from his home office in Saskatoon, where he answered our questions with his customary precision and welcomed splashes of humor.

Thank you, Steve, for leading off.

Can you introduce us to your association?
The Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association was established in 1914. Our job is to offer a convenient and cost effective way to buy advertising, place classifieds or issue a press release to our member newspapers all across Saskatchewan and the North West Territories.

Our 56 member newspapers not only reflect life in the communities they serve, they are a central part of Saskatchewan’s and the North West Territories’ unique lifestyle. Every week our member papers connect with more than 500,000 readers across Saskatchewan.

Our mission is simple. SWNA can take you to every community in the province, conveniently and cost effectively.

Now you: What’s been your career path?
My early background was in agriculture in New Zealand. In 1984, I went to Australia and was introduced to my first computer, an Amstrad 664. By 1989, I was doing prepress for clients trying to get files from a PC to a commercial printer, without going through an expensive Mac-based ad house. I created a niche business on getting PC files to film.

In order to control deadlines for my customers, I purchased a commercial print shop, then took on partners and absorbed another print business, ending up with five presses.

In 1997, I noticed a shift in the market as colour personal printers and photocopiers started to gain popularity and threatened our small-press operations. In 1998, I sold my share of the company and moved to Canada.

I joined the SWNA in 2003.

How would you describe your position and role to someone outside the newspaper industry?
I am the CEO of a trade association that performs advertising solutions and government advocacy work on behalf of our newspaper members.

What do you like best about your job?
Government advocacy.

We have a very strong reach into the Saskatchewan marketplace, especially rural, which places us in an incredibly strong position with our elected officials. Helping them use our medium better is very satisfying.

Least?
I hate having to announce newspaper closures.

Saskatchewan used to have 160 newspaper titles. With many small rural communities struggling to survive, many newspaper markets no longer exist.

With the move by advertisers to online, many small rural markets are being left out of the advertising mix.

What is your proudest career moment?
Successfully convincing the provincial government to reverse a proposed tax on recycling used newsprint.

What are some of the 2021 priorities for you and your association?
Our strategy has not changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We make sure community newspapers are recognized as one of the essential ways to communicate to the citizens of Saskatchewan.

What adjustments have you made during COVID-19?
I have staff who work permanently from home and others who limit their time in the office.

What keeps you up at night when wrestling with challenges?
Nothing, I sleep like a baby.

Actually, coming up with new ways to engage with members keeps me up. I stress about initiatives that are created to display the strength of our medium only to have members who just don’t engage. Frustrating.

If you had unlimited resources to advance our industry, where would you invest your time and money?
Training and accreditation for members and their staffs. Also, a centralized system that all members could use to control all aspects of their businesses.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
There are two secrets to success … the first is never reveal everything. The second is …

What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to golf.

Here’s Steve on a recent Zoom call. You’ll notice the background befitting a president.

Finally, how would your advice differ when offered to someone trying to break into the business compared with an industry veteran with 10 to 15 years until retirement?
I would say that news was, is, and always will be important. Don’t get hung up on the delivery mechanism as that is changing.

Local news is vital to the health of any community. Work on that strength.


As a postscript, we found this special message on Steve’s association website elaborating how newspapers are confronting the pandemic:

Throughout history, newspapers have been relied upon to provide in-depth, trusted and important information in times of crisis. The current COVID-19 pandemic is no different. In fact, the need for vital information to be communicated uniformly and without prejudice is perhaps greater now that it has ever been.

Community newspapers from coast to coast are on the front lines, keeping citizens of their communities updated on the latest developments directly affecting the lives of individuals living outside of the large media hubs. In thousands of communities across Canada, people young and old are relying on community newspapers to keep them informed.

The services offered by the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association and its sales arm, AdCanada Media, have never been more important than they are now. Specializing in connecting those with a message to community newspapers across Saskatchewan. If you or your organization requires assistance in pulling together a strategy for getting information into the hands of rural Saskatchewan, please do not hesitate to contact us.