Don Rogers: A win for us at the lake
Of course our company selling our sister papers in Nevada and asking us to look after the South Lake Tahoe Daily Tribune is a big deal for us.
For you? Probably not so much. Maybe more if you are reading this in the Sierra Sun and less, much less, if in The Union.
Our staffs won’t change, nor will our focus as community papers/online news sites and marketing organizations. And certainly no ill-advised attempts at name changes as we tried a little over a year ago when we took over the Sierra Sun. RIP “Truckee Sun.” Some lessons need be learned only once.
You may notice a fresh cohesiveness emerging between the south and north lake regions if you look closely enough. I hope so. We’re bending our plans that way to share strengths and maybe bridge over some weaknesses.
The Nevada Appeal in Carson City, The Record-Courier in Gardnerville, the Lahontan Valley News in Fallon, and the Northern Nevada Business View in Reno will share news as they did when part of us, as we will with them. This is more crucial for the Tribune, closer neighbors in South Lake. We’ll also keep selling advertising into each other’s publications, speaking of crucial.
The operations we sold all will remain at the same addresses, in the same buildings, the same phone numbers and maybe even the same email addresses, too. Our press will remain ours and continue printing what used to be our papers.
A lot will remain familiar even internally, including the people we work with, our now-former Swift Communications colleagues.
Yes, for sure, plenty will change, mainly for me but also our department heads as we integrate the Tribune into our operation. I mean our habits as well as systems, and how we look at the lake with both papers and online services, no longer limited to the north Tahoe region. Our mind map must grow.
And note to self: No more joking with the South Lake publisher having a day that it must suck to be him or her. Not that I ever did, though it’s possible the thought might have occurred once or twice over the years. What used to be someone else’s problem now is very much mine, too.
First things first, though, and first is making sure we can produce each paper and website reasonably well from the start. Then the fun stuff: How can we get the most out of each separately and together? How can we best make our whole puzzle fit?
The buyers, Pacific Publishing, see their new properties as good fits with their other Nevada holdings in Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Lovelock, Fallon and Fernley, along with Nevada Rancher magazine. We see advantages in concentrating our focus as a company elsewhere, including at the lake and Grass Valley/Nevada City.
Now, of course, this won’t exactly go down as one of the bigger news media deals of the year. Gannett and GateHouse, two of America’s largest newspaper companies, appear on the cusp of merging. The beast created in that deal would own one of every six dailies in this country. Our little agreement will barely score a brief outside our fold.
But we have plenty to keep us busy for a while. We won’t be bored, that’s for sure. Not that boredom has been much of an issue ever since the Great Recession and the changes in our business, as with so many others.
It’s not the audience. People are as thirsty for news as ever, and our readership overall is running as high or higher than ever. But the business itself has changed rather overwhelmingly in Facebook and Google’s favor, at least for now, as we migrate more online.
This isn’t so much the case in the mountain towns, though, where we and sister outfits in Vail and Aspen and Breckenridge and others continue to empty the newsstands as free papers to the public. One of the first things we did at the Sierra Sun last year was up the print run each week when readers complained they couldn’t find copies. Talk about your good problems to have.
Having South Lake in our fold neatly solves some puzzles, too. One untucked corner in our plan with the Sun left me overseeing their sales effort. Let’s just say my gifts here lean toward spare. Paired with lack of time and, well, supervision in this department has been a bit of a disgrace, I must say, saved only by the superior talent and initiative of our sellers. Now our publisher in South Lake, Rob Galloway, can take the north shore under his wing, too, a win-win.
This is how I look at the whole deal, really.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.