NewsBeat

November 2023

NewsBeat is a newsaper industry publication by the NY Press Association.

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November 2023 NewsBeat 2 CLIP & SAVE A NEWSLETTER FOR NEW YORK'S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS Published by the New York Press Association 621 Columbia Street Ext., Suite 100, Cohoes, NY 12047 518.464.6483 • 518.464.6489 fax • www.nynewspapers.com Editors - Michelle K. Rea and Judy Patrick Mark your calendar January 9, 2024 Deadline to enter NYPA Better Newspa- per Contest April 25, 2024 NYPA, NYPS and Foundation board of directors meetings April 26-27, 2024 Spring Conference and Trade Show NewsBeat By MICHELLE REA Collaborating, cooperating, shedding manual labor are keys to the future (Excerpts of remarks delivered by Michelle Rea at NYPA's annual publishers' conference in Boston in September) I recently read an article by Marty Baron, retired executive editor of the Washington Post and former executive editor of the Boston Globe. Baron remains deeply engaged in the journalism world and he has strong opin- ions about the state of local news, the role of owners, the trappings of nostalgia and the necessity of making hard choices. Baron talked a bit about some things we've heard a lot about, like vulture capital- ists who treat news organizations like an- nuities, extracting as much cash as possible until they disappear. He talked about the terrible predictions made by media pundits over the years, how horribly wrong they have been, but how many people took their words as gospel and made bad decisions based on all that noise. Baron talked about the role of philan- thropy, government funding, and nonprof- its and he made a strong case for why the future of our business must be based on our ability to support ourselves. Neither philanthropy nor the government is going to be willing to invest in companies that lose money indefinitely. There are and will be news organizations that can count on philanthropic support from their commu- nities in the same way public broadcasting has, but most of us are going to have to fig- ure out a commercially successful model. It's not a good look to be the damsel in distress, saying, "we're critical to democra- cy, please help us, we're doing such great work, we're wonderful, please come to our rescue." There's no future in that. If we want to maintain our independence, we can't become dependent. Producing local news in the digital age is daunting, partly due to disruptions to long standing business models and the public's inability to distinguish between news and misinformation. Combine that with FOMO, limited bandwidth, financial and time pres- sures, and it feels like we're running as fast as we can and getting nowhere fast. I'd like to propose the framework of a solution. NYPA's overarching mission is to do everything for the newspapers that they can't do for themselves. I am asking the NYPA board of directors to work with me to establish a task force to make clear the work that needs to be done. As an industry, we need to focus a lot more on collaboration and cooperation. We need to think about our market posi- tion and our competition much differently than we have in the past. Gone are the days when we worried about the competi- tion scooping us and gone should be the days when we worry about a competing news organization gobbling up our ad rev- enue. Today is the day when we must figure out how to join forces to deliver the most valuable audience, to lower our cost struc- tures, and to use technology and each other to shed manual labor. Our future success will be achieved by working together to deliver the largest audience across multiple platforms. A couple of weeks ago a couple of pub- lishers called me to talk about commercial printing. Commercial printing plants are closing at an unprecedented rate. Gannett closed their Binghamton plant then their Rockaway plant burned down. The NY Daily News shut down their printing plant. Lee shut down the Buffalo New's printing facility. The Daily Gazette in Schenectady closed their commercial printing facility. And dozens of newspapers were displaced. Should NYPA explore the feasibility of opening a printing plant – or plants? I spoke with John DeAugustine who closed his Schenectady plant, and his opinion is that NYPA is well positioned to enter this space. I don't yet know what this might look like – perhaps a not for profit or a cooper- ative venture with another printer? Could we secure grant funding? Should the plant be located near one of the postal service's sectional sort facilities, and how can we reduce trucking costs? What about pre-press and production? The companies out there doing it aren't getting high marks because they're out- sourcing to designers in Poland, Russia and India where the designers don't know

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