Well it’s that time of year when we reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and set our goals for the coming New Year. As a free community newspaper publishing organization the economy still casts a large shadow over all we do. Over the last few years as many newspaper organizations undergo changes as a result of the weak economy, we’ve received more and more reader and advertiser encouragement to step up our news coverage in both the quality and quantity of our reporting. Distributing to over 66,000 homes each week in the North Country region, combined we are the largest print product covering the region.
We feel confident that while we’ve taken steps in the right direction, we still have much to accomplish. Our ability to do so is in direct relationship to the support we receive from the community. Our tri-pod business model is a simple one to understand; Denton Publications provides the local news and free distribution to the readers, local businesses support our efforts with paid advertising, and the local readers support those local businesses by purchasing their products and services. By using that simple formula we all win and can avoid charging readers to receive the news we provide. The more support our advertisers realize from their support of our newspapers, the more extensive our news reporting can be.
Our overall sales were up in 2011 thanks in big part to the production of the Lake Champlain Bridge Commemorative Booklet. But unfortunately our cost increases continued to outpace income growth for the third year in a row with the usual culprits at the root of the increases: personnel related costs, paper, printing plates and postage. Despite the urge to trim expenses, we believe strongly that this is not the time to cut cost but instead to invest in our future. We continue to look for ways to build the staff, improve their benefits and invest in the technology and equipment that will allow us to grow and run an efficient publishing company. Coasting nor putting our head in the sand are options we will not consider. This economy requires our best efforts.
During 2011 we laid the foundation to our Digital Main Street, which combined 28 web sites from the North Country region across to Vermont, south to the Capital District and west to Central New York. In 2012 we’ll be inviting other independent publishes to join our network combining their local efforts to provide digital user a common navigation design as they search for news and information from area to area. Each entity will have its own URL and individual identity, but will use a common design and be clustered together, much like a downtown or mall shopping experience. Community news, features and events will create the critical mass needed to attract viewers from around the globe.
We see the creation of the Digital Main Street in the same manner in which we provide printing and delivery services for many independent publishers. By assisting these independent companies we’ve been able to expand our press line from 5 printing units with one output in the late 1980’s to 17 printing units with the capability of producing two products simultaneously. By pooling our resources we can offer services not generally available to small companies.
While digital and mobile growth trends continue to grow, we recognize there is still much value in the printed product. Next month we’ll be increasing our inserting capabilities with the installation of our second inserting machine, further advancing our production capabilities with an eight into one product, complete with inkjet addressing capabilities to compliment our five into one current production unit.
This week we’ll be rolling out a new electronic tear sheet program. Advertisers who currently wait for month’s end to receive a mailing of the individual newspaper pages that their ads appeared on will now receive those tear sheet pages electronically every week immediately upon publication. Advertising customers will now have complete access to every ad they run from this point forward, all completely searchable and free of any additional charges.
We see the new year of 2012 as one full of opportunity and continued growth for our small company. We anticipate further staff enhancements and growth in our ability to serve the economic health of our region. With the recent announcement of the $103 million award given by the state to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council combined with reopening of the Lake Champlain Bridge, we see our area’s opportunity to regain its economic footing as bright as it has been in recent years. Much work still remains but our goal at Denton Publications will be as supporter, driver and cheerleader. They are roles we’ve worked hard to maintain over the past 64 year but they remain as important today as they were back 1948 when our founder William Denton and his son Bill Denton saw a vision for the area and felt they could help.
We hope you’ll join us in welcoming in 2012 and we hope you’ll find the opportunities in it as prosperous and as exciting as we anticipate they will be. Happy New Year from our families to your family.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.