Terry: Newspaper change makes good business sense

Change sometimes hits you like a slap in the face. Take, for instance, when you picked up your newspaper this morning and found that the name you’ve known for your entire life has changed.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is noted for the quote, “Change alone is unchanging.” I’ve also heard it as “The only constant is change.” That same mind also tells us “You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”

Karl Terry

Karl Terry

You could say these are fancy words to get across the idea that nothing stays the same in life. So it is in the newspaper business.

The first time I saw this change in action in the newspaper business was one afternoon 37 years ago at the start of my shift in the pressroom at the Portales News-Tribune. Shortly after I arrived, they herded everyone into the old composing room, now the newsroom, and introduced us to representatives of the new owners of the newspaper.

The uncertainty at the time was rough on those who worked there. The Greaves and Stinnett families had owned and operated a newspaper in Portales as long as anyone could remember.

The 1980s proved to be the last really profitable decade for newspapers. First it was direct mail, then it was target marketing and finally the Internet that eroded the profitability of newspapers of all sizes across the country.

I’ve been involved in too many of those “big change coming” meetings over the years and none of them were fun no matter if I were conducting them or there as an invitee. While I wasn’t there myself, I’m sure the most recent meeting of that type at your local newspaper was no different.

I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t sad about seeing the names of the Clovis News Journal and the Portales News-Tribune sent to the dusty archives of history with today’s issue of The Eastern New Mexico News. But I will tell you the handwriting was on the wall even when I arrived back in eastern New Mexico in 2005. Knowing the business side of newspapers as well as I do, I scratched my head with each passing year as to the lack of change.

I believe it was slow in coming because it was obvious to publishers and owners just how passionate the readers were about their newspaper. Sure they griped constantly about the paper, but it was their hometown rag and they had the right, after all.

The economies of scale at work now with these changes
make good business sense. The leadership is strong and not afraid of change and that bodes well for hometown journalism in eastern New Mexico.
Change is in the air after this rancorous election season. Neither the Trump administration nor this newspaper’s management expects you to stay quiet about everything they do, but we owe both a fair chance.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:
karlterry@yucca.net