You never know who’s calling

I print my cell phone number in every newspaper we own, so you never know who will be on the other end and what that person needs when my phone rings each day.

Often it is an issue with a paper not getting delivered. We are on the phone daily with the post office it seems?but that?s another topic for another day. Or a caller may suggest a story idea, or to complain anonymously about an editorial or whatever.

Just a few weeks ago my phone rang, and since I was free, I answered. Boy, was I surprised when it was the president of the Mid Amer?ica Newspaper Conference, who was calling to ask me to keynote their conference in just a few weeks.

?What?? I responded, almost expecting someone to tell me I was getting ?Punk?ed? or something.

After some conversation, the offer appeared to be genuine. I found out the speaker who originally was booked had an emergency and couldn?t attend the conference, and now they were scrambling to find a replacement. The good-old second choice. I?m not above it.

?Why me?? I finally asked.

Apparently, people at the larger newspapers?The Lawrence Journal-World, Omaha World-Herald, Kansas City Star and the likes?are honestly interested in what we little guys are doing. The president heard we were doing some neat stuff for a community weekly.

Humbled, I accepted the offer and now have to figure out how to speak for an hour about our operation and how we are ?moving the industry forward? and all that stuff.

I have spoken to crowds before and don?t have the typical public-speaking fear from years of debate, but I haven?t before had to speak for an hour to a group, especially one I look up to in many ways.

The gig is a good opportunity for Lindsey and me to see the Lake of the Ozarks, attend a conference for free, and meet lots of folks I maybe wouldn?t otherwise access. I will figure it all out, but the lesson I gleaned from this is that no matter how small you might feel, someone is always watching and noticing.

I have always felt we put out quality products and we have been recognized for that many times, but I never really thought someone would care outside of our dedicated readership for whom we really do this.

It?s nice the big guys want to know what we?re doing in these small towns, though. It might help them get back to their roots a little. Wish me luck. I?ll let you know soon how it goes.

Joey Young is a majority owner and publisher of the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ventures.