The first time I reached down to say it, it didn’t come out. My voice crackled and it took a little regrouping to get the words out of my mouth. My wife and I are leaving Montrose. Everyone around the management table looked at me with disbelief. “We’re going to purchase a daily newspaper outside of our family company and go run it,” I said. Still little verbal response but looks strongly suggested it’s wasn’t setting in.
For all of my life, I’ve loved newspapers. My grandfather founded our family company, Wick Communications, with my great uncle Jim in 1926. Times were tough those early days in Niles, Ohio. and in addition to being the owner, my grandfather would come in early and clean trash bins, and sweep the floor. He was an entrepreneur and his efforts are still felt to this day.
Discussions of newspapering took place every night at the dinner table, we’d talk sports, current events and the importance of informing a community. The world we live in today is different than those at the dinner table of yesteryear but the principals are still the same.
When my wife and I first arrived in Montrose, over three years ago, we knew that the business of newspapering was different. It was going through a transformation and many of the pundits predict(ed) then, and still now, that our trade is dying. It’s been a theme that’s been said for over 15 years now, and we’re still looking for a tombstone.
Even during my grandfather’s time, the pundits then said radio would eventually be the death of newspapers, and it wasn’t. They then said it was going to be the television, and it wasn’t. Now it’s the digital era and yet you sit reading this column in a newspaper that people believe should be dead. How ironic!
What we’ve learned these past three years running the Montrose Daily Press is that newspapers are still necessary and financially vibrant. Many of the challenges one reads in the journals about our industry has more to do with the normalization of our business model than its overall demise. Let’s be honest, media has been high on the hog when it came to profits.
My wife and I have discussed the idea of purchasing a newspaper for quite some time now. Mostly it was a pipe dream but the more we talked, the more we realized this needs to happen. After speaking with a dear friend of mine and seeking his counsel about leaving a company that I’ve always identified with I asked whether this was the right move. He quickly made two distinct observations – 1) you take risks when you’re young, 2) being an entrepreneur is in your DNA and if not now, when? I knew then it was only a matter of finding the right opportunity.
Today, after making the announcement to staff and community we pursue this next chapter in our lives knowing full well the achievements made here in Montrose offer the confidence and ability to continue newspapering.
There will always be a need for local community information that’s produced by journalists. There will always be a need for local business owners to work with consultants to wade through the variety of marketing options available to them. Lastly, there’s always a place for an organization, like a newspaper, to help lead a community and make sure those who are in leadership positions are doing what we expect of them.
It was tough getting those words out, making it verbally real that another chapter is upon us knowing full well the one we leave is thus far at the top of the list.
Francis Wick is the publisher of the Montrose Daily Press. He can be reached at 252-7099 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.