Friday August 9, 2013

Michelle Karas’ Thursday editorial "Saying so long to some staff favorites, hello to some new ones," brings to mind some interesting challenges that we have as local employers. As I talk with other community members who employ people in our area, I realize that I am not alone in my assessment of our work force. It seems that most of us find it difficult to recruit, hire, train and retain people who will help us to reach our company objectives. In my case, I have an obligation as publisher of your local newspaper to deliver quality, timely news and information. It takes quite a cast of characters to be able to do that.

When you think of what goes on at a newspaper, first thoughts are of our reporting staff. Yes, these folks need to be good journalists and photographers. They also need to be able to juggle multiple tasks, they need to be able to keep to a very tight deadline schedule, and they need to be capable of working in both print and digital worlds. The stereotypical Daily Planet newsroom where Clark Kent, aka Superman, was employed has really gone by the wayside. Our news staff is now publishing stories throughout the day and night, rather than working hours, days or longer on a story that will run in some future edition of the paper. Clark Kent would not be able to survive in the newsroom of today.

Our local business community has always reaped great benefits from advertising on the pages of our printed products.


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Our advertising representatives, one of which I used to be, are our primary revenue generators. In the digital age, advertising options have expanded to include Web, social, mobile and email. Ad reps are no longer designing ads for print alone, but are constantly learning about new products that are becoming available on a daily basis. Our company has referred to this constant introduction of new products as the "Digital Fire Hose." Imagine a job where you’re always learning to the point where products introduced as recently as six months ago are now outdated and have been replaced by something even more effective.

Today, it takes a much different skill set than it did twentysomething years ago when I launched my career at a weekly newspaper.

Because we still publish strong print products, we still maintain one of the strongest home delivery networks in the industry. Our circulation employees and contractors are still delivering newspapers to our home delivery subscribers and newsstand dealers overnight each night. What’s different here? Back when I was in high school, I delivered the afternoon newspaper in my neighborhood by filling my bike basket with my copies and riding out for an hour or so. Today, because we are a morning newspaper, our carriers are driving overnight hours, some of them covering as many as 400 subscribers and earning enough money to contribute significantly to the household income.

There are many more talented folks behind the scenes that play a role in our success. Finance folks manage our budgets for us. Marketing executives gather necessary information and work with product development teams. Production experts manage the process of getting our products from conception to completion. Human Resources personnel keep our employment practices up to date. The list goes on.

Having spent most of my adult life in this business, I can’t help but notice the difference in the people that I have come into contact with. While our industry is in a state of transition, we are no longer able to employ people who do not share our passion for delivering quality information, on time and on budget. These passionate people are necessary in every area of our operations. I am proud to have assembled a core group of passionate media professionals.

We expect turnover, and it happens for a couple of reasons. We are often proud of employees who find opportunity to move on within our industry. Michelle mentioned a couple of those folks in her recent editorial. We often lose people because they do not make the connection to our company that I’ve been talking about here. And, for those of us who have been doing this forever, there comes a day when we need to move aside and hand things off to the next generation. As a middle-aged father with two small children, I am not planning to do that anytime soon.

The Bennington Banner will always be your first source for local news and information, whether you read us on printed or digital platforms.

If you think you or someone you know might share the passion that I’ve written about, I’d love to chat with you about how you’d fit on our team. Give me a call at 802-447-7567, ext. 105, or email me at ewoods@benningtonbanner.com.

~Ed Woods