A New Perspective 11-18-2004: News Business

Golden Gate Gazette

November 18, 2004

Each year we see a few newspapers, shoppers, and other news products enter the world of publishing in this area. My brother and I used to keep a list on the office wall of all of the papers that had come and gone during our time in Collier County. After a few years, the list was too long to continue and the fun had worn out.
We used to get all excited, hovering over our area, trying to protect our turf, and cursing the people who stole our ideas, copied our stories, or even worse – did something good that we wished we would have done.
You soon learn to just do your own thing and let the others do theirs. Sweating others stuff is so unproductive.
This week, I read an account of a person’s failed attempt to launch another newspaper.
The ‘victim’ was a coordinator of professional writing for a college and he felt he could do a good job. He had asked many people in the small neighborhood if they would support such a venture and had received good feedback. He felt there was a lot of news that wasn’t being told – news he felt the residents would be interested in reading.
He didn’t dare attempt a weekly as he didn’t want to do this full time. He decided to come out quarterly. With a quarterly edition, he felt he would have plenty of lead-time to work on the stories and put the paper together.
What he didn’t count on, was that the news never stops. Things were continually happening that should be covered for the next issue. The work was cutting in on his family responsibilities and other commitments and his free time to work on the paper diminished. He was quoted as saying, “When you do everything yourself, you get no time.”
Costs were another big factor in his decision to finally pull out of the endeavor. Advertising was covering most of his costs, such as printing and paying the few people who were helping him.
He said it finally came down to advertising revenue and cash flow. He had one guy doing ad sales and a recent college grad doing stories. For each story the reporter submitted, another ad had to be sold. That meant he had to sell ads too.
The project got even more time consuming. It left little time to write and do investigative reporting.
He couldn’t determine how many people read the paper. He printed about 1,000 copies and distributed them at bus stops, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses.
At one stop, he dropped a bunch off and 10 minutes later he noticed all of the papers were gone. He was rather upset that someone had trashed the papers. He checked the garbage cans in the area but couldn’t find them. They cost him a lot of money.
After six months, he never received any letters to the editor, nor did he get any email from readers. He wasn’t sure if anyone really cared if he published or not.
He was working furiously for his next edition, when it hit him that he had not met some other obligation and let the ball drop. He stopped publishing and got back on with his other less complicated life.