Community newspapers remain strong

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, March 31, 2013

This past week and one-half I had the privilege of talking with three of our local civic clubs in one short stretch – Rotary, Lions and Servitium, formerly Kiwanis.

I’m sure my 15 minutes of fame must have seemed like an eternity to those on the other side of the podium, and I appreciate their gracious endurance. I also appreciate three free lunches at Poppa’s.

In each instance I told them a bit about my family and myself, which I have done in this space previously. I spoke a little bit about our company that now owns The Daily Leader and our history that has its earliest beginnings in Picayune and Natchez Mississippi. I shared about the 40-year relationship we have cherished with the Jacobs family.

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I talked about our company philosophy in publishing community newspapers to produce the highest quality product the economies of the community served can afford. And then, by ingenuity and imagination, strive for better in an effort to serve and grow that community.

The message I really wanted to get across was not my own, but rather one from billionaire Warren Buffet. Buffet’s investment company, Brookshire Hathaway owns BH Media Group. This past month BH Media Group bought the Tulsa, Okla., World. Earlier this year they acquired the Greensboro, N.C., News-Record.

These were BH Media’s 27th and 28th daily newspapers to acquire within the past year, along with 40 other non-daily newspapers.

Buffet has encouraging words for newspaper readers and for those of us in the business who dedicate our lives to public service by way of the printed word. I trust most of you reading your Daily Leader this morning would agree with him. In a recent interview Buffett said:

“Newspapers continue to reign supreme in the delivery of local news. If you want to know what’s going on in your town – whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football – there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job.

“A reader’s eyes may glaze over after they take in a couple of paragraphs about Canadian tariffs or political developments in Pakistan; a story about the reader himself or his neighbors will be read to the end.

Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.

“(Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger) and I believe that papers delivering comprehensive and reliable information to tightly bound communities and having a sensible Internet strategy will remain viable for a long time.

We do not believe that success will come from cutting either the news content or frequency of publication. Indeed, skimpy news coverage will almost certainly lead to skimpy readership. And the less-than-daily publication that is now being tried in some large towns or cities – while it may improve profits in the short term – seems certain to diminish the papers’ relevance over time.

Our goal is to keep our papers loaded with content of interest to our readers and to be paid appropriately by those who find us useful, whether the product they view is in their hands or on the Internet.”

Our goal at The Daily Leader is the same, and I’ll take Mr. Buffet’s comments as a good endorsement.

Like Buffett, I think newspapers still have a lot of life left in them when operated properly to serve a tight-knit community. And, I’m here in Brookhaven because I see this town as having an extraordinary sense of community.

I trust The Daily Leader has a great future and ample opportunity to serve here for a long, long time. Thank you for reading and supporting your community and your Daily Leader.

Rick Reynolds is president/publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at