Owning a paper is enough

Pub?lisher Joey and I took a fast trip to Altoona, Iowa, Thurs?day to Saturd?ay for the 60th Anniver?sary Spring Con?ference of Midwest Free Community Papers at Prairie Meadows Casino east of Des Moines.

I heard more than once there was no reason to gamble, since owning a newspaper/publishing business was risky enough by itself.

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One of the keynote addresses was given by Kevin Slimp, of Knoxville, Tenn. He is a newspaper guru and director of the Institute of Newspaper Technology at the Univer?sity of Tennessee.

Slimp has worked with newspaper owners and groups of newspapers and other publications for the past 20 years so he is keenly aware of what is happening in the world of print and publications.

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Recently he completed a survey of more than 600 newspapers, both free and paid, about the current state of the industry.

What he has learned and what he shared with us was extremely interesting to us. He said unequivocally that newspapers and print are not dead and the survey proves it.

He also has his pulse on the digital world, and said not to count it out and use it if you can afford to invest in it?in addition to print, which is healthy, quite robust currently and should be into the future.

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He said some large media companies who bet the future on a digital platform and who forsake print have already gone out of business. Examples of papers that bet the future on digital, such as the Times-Picayune of New Orleans that shut down their print newspaper, have been replaced by a printed newspaper from Baton Rouge.

Slimp said Birming?ham, Ala., is a city without a printed newspaper. Joey and I started looking at the map to see how far it was so we could head there after the conference and start one.

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Folks, I am here to say that printed newspapers are not dead, especially those like ours that cover local community news.

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It occurred to me while I was at the conference that we would be going through Kansas City right about the time the Big 12 champ?ionship game was to start.

Out of curiosity I checked ticket prices. When we hit the road just after lunch on Saturday, the available tickets started in the $256 range.

I checked again an hour from the start of the game and the price had dropped to $125. Still too rich for me.

Then five minutes before game time the tickets were all gone except for two tickets at $365. A half hour into the game those tickets were still available.

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Another quote I like: ?Most of us probably feel we couldn?t be free without newspapers, and that is the reason?we want newspapers?to be free.? ?Edward R. Murrow

If you wish to share your comments or ideas, my e-mail address is joel@
hillsboro?freepress.com.