John Reed: Change is in our DNA at News-Gazette Media

John Reed: Change is in our DNA at News-Gazette Media

By JOHN REED

I like numbers. Perhaps that's a testament to the education in finance and accounting I received at our local institution of higher learning nearly three decades ago. Or maybe it's that numbers have proven over the years to be a useful way to help me tell a story.

Whatever the reason, I'd ask for your indulgence while I share a few of them that are directly related to our media business.

The News-Gazette can trace its roots back for 165 years. We were here before the Civil War started and before the railroads came to town.

WDWS, our first radio station (whose call sign is derived from the initials of our company's founder — David W. Stevick), went on the air 80 years ago in 1937.

News-gazette.com, by comparison, is a mere 21 years old, having made its first appearance in 1996. That is, by the way, a full three years before most other newspapers our size started their own websites.

We operate 30 distinct media properties consisting of one daily newspaper, seven weekly newspapers, two retail advertising publications, five magazines, three radio stations and a network of 12 websites. We also offer a full suite of print and digital marketing services.

With those properties, we conservatively reach a weekly audience of 200,000 print readers, 75,000 radio listeners and 250,000 visitors to our websites.

Taken together, those audience numbers continue to grow each year.

My point in sharing those numbers is this: We've been around for a long, long time and we have a large and growing audience.

Arguably, that audience is bigger than that of any other local media outlet. That's a clear indicator of our continued relevance as a provider of both news and advertising information.

Our institutional DNA is hard-coded to innovate, withstand economic hardship and manage our way through technological change. We've been doing it for 165 years now, and I'm certain we'll be doing it for 165 more.

But, the media business, like so many others today, is evolving. Evolution naturally brings with it some measure of change, and I'm very fortunate to lead an organization that, more readily than most, willingly embraces those changes.

Specifically, I want to tell you about three key initiatives that are currently underway.

The first is a new corporate name and logo. "News-Gazette Media" is the new moniker under which our company will operate. The name honors our roots, and clearly conveys what we do. We're a media company operating on print, radio and digital platforms.

Second, I'm particularly excited to announce that by the end of July, our radio operations will relocate to our downtown offices. We're currently busy building new studios and outfitting them with the latest technology.

When complete, our radio, newspaper and digital operations will work together as one big multimedia machine focused on continually improving all our products. We'll bring more resources to bear on what we do best — local journalism.

More than 65 reporters, editors, photographers, designers, on-air personalities and support staff will work together to continue delivering you the best in local news, sports and entertainment.

Together, we'll make the best use of all the platforms at our disposal. Radio brings immediacy and instant listener engagement. Print delivers depth and massive reach. Digital gets us all of that, plus the benefit of multimedia tools to enhance the storytelling process.

Finally, as announced last Tuesday, we've made the decision to outsource our printing and packaging operations. As nearby papers in Springfield, Bloomington and Danville did several years ago, we came to the conclusion that buying these services is a necessary step to provide our readers with a more attractive and colorful product while maintaining our fiscal strength.

All of our newspapers will be printed by the Journal Star in Peoria. There will be no changes to existing News-Gazette delivery deadlines.

In closing, I'd like to thank our loyal readers and listeners for their continued support. We don't say "thank you" often enough, but after all, you are the reason we've been here for 165 years and will be for 165 more.

John Reed is CEO of News-Gazette Media and publisher of The News-Gazette. His email address in jreed@news-gazette.com.

Sections (2):Columns, Opinion

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cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on April 16, 2017 at 8:04 am

What happens to the folks who were loyal and did the printing at the paper at night?  Just thrown t the curb?

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 16, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Will the the opinions, editorials, and news remain a GOP blog?

Savoyard wrote on April 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Think you can manage to deliver my paper to my front porch rather than in a box out at the street?

Robert DeAtley wrote on July 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

John Reed states in this article, "There will be no changes to existing News-Gazette delivery deadlines."  Yet in the last 4 weeks, I did not recieve my paper in Mahomet prior to 6:30 AM 15 of 20 week days.  I called The News-Gazeete circulation department around 11 of those times, and finally today, I heard back from Tim Robinson (spelling?) of The News - Gazette, who explained to me that the deadline has been pushed back an hour for weekdays to 7:00 AM.  This is a complete dissapointment.  If I have to wait until after I return home from work to get my newspaper, the paper is useless to me.  I am surely not the only reader who will have to give up my print subscription!