Former Vice President of Community News, Gannett
Randy Lovely recently retired as Vice President of Community News for Gannett. Previously, he was Senior Vice President for News and Audience Development at the Arizona Republic and was Executive Editor of the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, California.
Increasingly what we’re trying to do — and the goal for us is to get to about a 50-50 divide — is between our revenue being driven by advertising versus our revenue being driven by consumers and getting more and more to where consumers are paying for the content they’re consuming.
In about two dozen of our markets, we have the Storytellers Project, which was originally launched in Phoenix about eight or nine years ago, and basically those are nights of live storytelling, which obviously is very much a part of our DNA and so they’re themed at nights and both journalists and community members come together. … It’s a paid admission, but we also have sponsorship opportunities of those nights. And most of those nights generate somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 attendees, so that’s been fairly successful. We do high school sports banquets in many of our markets, and then we’ve done some lifestyle events like food and wine festivals. One of the more recent ones that I’ve found really interesting was our properties in southwest Florida partnered with a local university this fall and they did a First Amendment festival and it was wildly successful. They had great attendance and maybe that speaks to the kind of environment that we find ourselves in, but that fed my soul a little bit that people were so willing to come to a series of events over a weekend framed around the First Amendment.
Quite honestly, we’re approaching what I would probably characterize as the death of the 15-inch story. Because if it can’t prove itself to be really worth the investment of time and then you create a really great, rich narrative experience with the interactive graphics and the videos as well as the narrative writing, if the story doesn’t merit that, it really then needs to be in that bucket of being much more utilitarian and much more scannable.
We’ve tried doing packages among local properties. So for example, if you live in Milwaukee but you spend the winters in Phoenix, would you like to have a subscription to both? That has not really proven to be all that advantageous because I just don’t think that’s a big enough bucket of people to do that.