Do What Works

It’s almost like if you do things well, everything will be okay: 

It recently launched its 23rd edition, in Richmond, Texas, and has 186 employees and 11 open positions (that’s up from 7 editions and 63 employees in 2010). And this year, to help it expand further, Community Impact committed fully to dead-tree-ness and took the unusual step of opening its own printing plant. The 36,000-square-foot, $15 million facility opened in October in Pflugerville, next door to Community Impact’s main offices. (Here’s what the print product looks like.)

“We were outgrowing the capacity of the printer we’d worked with over the years,” Garrett said. “We traveled the Southwest United States and looked at facilities and were really thinking, man, we’re in trouble if something happens with our current provider.” His team went to New York to watch Goss Magnum compact presses, which they ended up buying, in action.

“The day we got back from New York was the day the [Austin American-] Statesman decided they were going to shut down their plant,” Garrett recalled. “That, to me, was just a sign that I needed to control my own destiny.”

Time was, EVERY newspaper had its own printing plant and sure, expensive, but then to Garrett’s point nobody can mess with you or tell you what to do.

I keep saying this: Print declined so precipitously not because it was OLDSAUCE or because nobody liked to read anymore or because Kids Today with Their iPhones and Craig with His List murdered it. Print declined because the owners of print newspapers deliberately undermined it as a model, used their losses to justify cuts, used those cuts to justify further cuts, wrote the whole thing off, and parachuted out the window leaving a steaming dump on the boardroom table.

Just do your goddamn job:

In addition, Community Impact’s new printing presses can zone editorial content at the carrier-route level. “If we’re covering two school districts, we’ll be able to piece those districts up,” said Garrett, so that recipients living in different school districts in the same town would receive papers with different covers and news targeted to the school districts they’re in.

The ability to do such extreme targeting means Community Impact’s in-paper advertising is a viable competitor to Facebook. “A business owner can run, for $500, an ad in my paper and reach 80,000 households around their business,” Garrett said.

Distribution and marketing are the easiest things to do right and papers fucked them up left and right. Brands would commit MURDER for the kind of customer loyalty, nurtured over generations, that newspaper companies pissed away doing stupid stuff to their routes and timing in the mid-2000s for no reason other than short-term greed.