The wonderful, difficult role of publisherPublished 10:18am Thursday, May 17, 2012
Column: Thanks for Listening
Being a publisher of a newspaper is quite possibly the most unique job there is. We have the task of trying to not only lead a team, but a community.
C.K. Blandin was a well-known publisher as well as an owner of the Minneapolis Tribune and Saint Paul Pioneer Press in the early 1900s and is now more widely known after his death in 1958 as the person responsible for the Grand Rapids-based Blandin Foundation and its Blandin Community Leadership Program.
C.K. Blandin said this about publishing a newspaper:
“If we publish original matter, they say we don’t give them enough selections; if we don’t we are lazy. If we ‘puff’ a man we are partial. If we compliment the ladies, the men are jealous; if we don’t, we are publishing a paper not fit to make a bustle of. If we remain in our office, we are too proud to mingle with the common ‘herd’; if we’re on the streets, we’re not attending to our business. If we don’t go to church, we are heathens, and if we go, we are hypocrites.”
This was written in the Olivia Weekly Press decades ago, and it is amazing how true it still rings today.
The newspaper business, which is now a multimedia business that includes Internet, direct mail, text messages, glossy magazines and a multitude of niche marketing channels, is, if done right, a place for a community to turn to. Having a community turn to you is a large burden and one that I believe every publisher takes quite seriously. I like to say that we have big shoulders here at the Tribune, and that means we have to take the good with the bad, we need to shine the light on what is good in a community, but also protect those who need protecting against in cases of gross injustice and abuse. We are here every day to be judged by you, the reader, on our content, opinions and the general way we help drive our community.
Publishing a daily paper is knowing that on one page of your product you may be loved by the reader, yet in turning to the next page, the same reader will loathe you. We are loved and hated with the same passion, and that is a unique position to be in.
Our goals are to provoke thought in the reader and to have this process be brought to the light so that better dialogue and communications can lead to informed and correct decision-making.
We are often blamed for leaning to one side or the other, often by each side and often in the same day. And you know what? Good. We are doing our job. To be a leader, you must be fair, but you must also speak the truth and print the facts.
You may wonder what my favorite part of our media is, and I will tell you that I love when we print, or post online, all the community pictures with the business representatives shaking hands with one another and then on another page we will have children and teens being highlighted for a sport, a music recital or an educational highlight at their local school.
Looking at the photos, you get to see the prideful glory of a person who is just bursting with a sense of accomplishment. That sense of accomplishment is what I live for. I love when I know that an article or a picture is going to end up on the refrigerator of a parent or grandparent who is filled with pride.
My least favorite part is seeing tragedy. We hate to see a person in an accident or turning to obituaries and finding a 4-year-old who just died from cancer. We at the Tribune are humans and the same things that make you shake your head and cringe are the same things that make us shake our heads and cringe and sometimes cry. It does not alter our reporting on these subjects, but it does make us have to bite our lip just a little harder or take a deep breath prior to clicking on the keys of our computer.
So you see that being a publisher, editor or any newspaper team member sure can run the gamut of emotion. Luckily, I am surrounded with an amazing team, and I get to see and be a part of an amazing community with people who care.
Thank you to all of our customers and thank you the people of our news organization. I will now take a great Al Batt line and say, Be Kind.
Knights in the outfield
Join the Knights Baseball teams this weekend at Snyder Field in Albert Lea. Every year this tournament gets bigger and bigger, and this year it is both this weekend and the weekend of June 22-24.
Stop down and cheer these great athletes on as they battle in the sixth annual Knights Invitational. I have personally attended each year and the level of competitiveness is top-notch. The Knights bring with them a fantastic brand of baseball as they take on many teams from throughout the states of Minnesota and Iowa. This tournament has become one of the many events that make Albert Lea and our surrounding area so amazing.
Good luck, Knights!
Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.