Print thrives in Washington

Inlander’s September 13th cover. (Submitted image via Poynter.org)

For years naysayers have been proclaiming the death of print journalism. However, as more corporate owners collect small newspapers and quickly wring all profit out of them like them, it is sparking some communities to rally around print newspapers.

A prime example is the Inlander, the free weekly in Spokane, Wash. For 25 years this newspaper has been serving its community, and it is doing so independently. There is no corporate owner to bail out the publication if revenues fall short one week or month. It’s all on the owners and other employees to make it work.

Kristen Hare, reporting for the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, highlighted the paper and discussed how the owners, brothers Jed and Jeremy McGregor, run the operation like a startup even to this day.

You can find the article here: Lessons from a 25-year-old local ‘startup’

Hare said the brothers run a streamlined operation and surround themselves with good people, all with the goal of server their readers. This is an important takeaway because journalism is about service. If the readers don’t support the business by purchasing the product, then the business will fail.

One creative step the Inlander has taken is to publish a serialized novel, complete with a major advertiser as the sponsor.

You can find that article here: This Washington weekly is publishing a serialized novel (and making money from it)

This is something most newspapers might not attempt. It’s risky. It’s putting fiction in with factual news content. However, if creates a vehicle for profit and the readers appreciate it, why not take that kind of creative risk.

The Inlander highlights how new approaches can be taken in the print industry. Undoubtedly the media world is changing with so many inexpensive digital options. However, that doesn’t mean traditional mediums have to be pushed to the side. It just takes a new approach and a mentality to succeed.

Even in the state of Kansas this mentality and creative drive is alive and well as large companies such as GateHouse Media move in and purchase, slowly killing, once thriving newspapers (The Hutchinson News and The Newton Kansan and The McPherson Sentinel, for example). In fact, a young entrepreneur is challenging a giant like GateHouse. His name is Joey Young, and he owns Kansas Publishing Ventures. Young and his company have created print products that directly challenges some of these GateHouse products, and he is quickly purchasing other newspapers in small communities throughout central Kansas. He clearly believes print isn’t dead, and he is providing an example of how to make the print industry thrive in small towns.

Next time someone tries to say the newspaper industry is flirting with death. Tell them they are dead wrong.