Today begins a new era for my family and the communities our newspapers and websites serve.
For my family, it is back to owning and operating a media company. Along with the challenges of owning a mid-sized company, there is much gratification in being a local newspaper publisher/owner. My wife Ann and I take this business seriously. For us, it is not just about the bottom line. It is getting it right from an editorial perspective. It is being the historical recorder of births, deaths, accomplishments and even disappointments, while covering all slices of life that make our communities special.
We once owned some of the newspapers we purchased this past Friday, those being the Littleton Independent, Highlands Ranch Herald and Englewood Herald. Since we sold them in 1997, this business has changed, but in some ways it is still the same.
In researching for this column, I read a Tom Brokaw letter that was simply perfect. “Journalism the world over is in the midst of profound, transformative change, and it is not clear what forms will eventually emerge and become dominant. What will not change is the importance of the function of journalism in the lives of everyone. Ordinary citizens and their leaders; the politically and economically oppressed; tycoons and Main Street merchants; the faithful and doubters — wherever we fit in the large and small construct of humanity, we need truth-tellers.”
My friend Chris Gibbons at the City of Littleton’s Business and Industry Affairs department is probably the most shocked person in South Metro Denver that I am back in the business. He and I have lunched occasionally over the years, and since 1997, he has been predicting the demise of the newspaper business. And to some extent he is correct when it comes down to major daily newspapers, as they struggle with the immediacy of the Internet. But as state Sen. Rollie Heath recently told me, “community media has never been more relevant.”
And community is the only focus we have with our newspapers and digital media. Community newspapers and their websites are flourishing throughout the country.
Why? Well, in 1951, the U.S. State Department and U.S. Information Agency initiated a short documentary titled “Small Town Editor,” which focused on the Littleton Independent and its editor, the late Houstoun Waring. The moderator closes the documentary with the following about Houstoun. “He is the recorder who listens and writes. Through him the people of the town express themselves as a force for improvement and progress . . . Yes, he is an integral part of the community.”
Our success will be predicated by how well we live up to being an integral part of the community. Over the next few months, you will see more news, more local advertisements, more community listings, more photos and a total redesign of the newspapers. The websites, at www.ourcoloradonews.com, are some of the best in the business, but they, too, will be improved by additional content. You can expect to see employees of Community Media of Colorado at more events and be involved in more organizations. And, yes, we will be bringing back editorials and endorsements.
There is no way any of our plans can be achieved without your help, and I have a special favor to ask of our readers and the business community. Help spread the word that your hometown newspaper/website is locally owned and operated again. Help us find more readers and advertisers and send us your news.
The more you support us, the more relevant we become. And it is that relevance that will make us successful, no matter the medium, and help us remain the historical record for our communities and a force for improvement and progress.
Jerry Healey is president and CEO of the Macari-Healey Publishing Co. and a Highlands Ranch resident.