Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Beacon Journal Sold

And not to the Plain Dealer. Sound Publishing, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Black Press, Ltd. bought Akron’s paper. Big ups to Ohio.com for having a podcast of Publisher James Crutchfield’s meeting with staff.

The “Sound” in Sound Publishing is Puget Sound. Sound is based in Bainbridge Island, WA and runs a number of weekly and twice-weekly papers in the region. The Black in Black Press is company founder David Black. Black Press is based in Western Canada and runs papers in Alberta, British Columbia and Hawaii.

After Googling the frustratingly generic names and listening to the pod, I wonder if Laura Rich Fine advises Black. Thanks to her I was looking and listening for certain features that she saw as key to a successful newspaper company. Black pretty much runs the table.

  • Not a Publicly-Owned company. Check. Black is a family-owned company. The BJ is going back to its roots. In the family-owned sense, not the run from an island off Washington sense.
  • Focused on local News. Check. Sound Publishing’s website is practically lifted from Fine’s speech:
    Anybody can tell you what's going on in the world--CNN, USA Today, or Yahoo. But where do you turn when you want to know about the new construction site down the street or the latest school board vote?

    That's where we come in. Sound Publishing newspapers cover local news,
    high school sports, police activity, weddings and new babies - whatever is going
    on in your community.
  • Web Savvy. Check. Black formed a separate company in 1999 to host nationwide web-based classified advertising. Looking at some of the newspaper websites, they have a pretty good balance of content and advertising, easy navigation and reasonably fast downloads.

  • Fine’s Dream: A pdf File of the Paper in her Inbox. Even this far-off idea is closer with Black and Sound. Black uses a pdf-based app in its printing facilities.
All that’s missing is the citizen journalism *cough cough.*

The one potential downside is that Sound doesn’t appear to operate any daily newspapers From what I can see Black (or perhaps some other subsidiary of Black) owns the dailies. That probably makes the publishing team in place at the BJ feel better about job security – less likely the new owner will want to put his guys in if he doesn’t really have guys. On the other hand, one wonders about the learning curve.

Finally, I am happy someone beat out Plain Dealer owner Advance Publications. I like Cleveland, but find C-town’s attitude toward Akron a little wearing. Clevelanders talk about “Cleveland” and mean the Cleveland Statistical Metropolitan Area. Fair enough. If I lived in Brooklyn it probably wouldn’t bother me to be lumped in with Cleveland. Clevelanders, however, don’t seem to appreciate that Akron isn’t a suburb of Cleveland.

And yes, I join Redhorse in the irritation that Mark Naymik didn’t interview any bloggers in Akron. And no, that’s not what started it, it’s just the latest manifestation. Nothing against Cleveland, we just need our own stuff here.

    6 comments:

    redhorse said...

    good pick up on the new owner's alignment with Fine's principals. hopefully, that means a long and happy chapter in the new life of the ABJ.

    With a focus on local, does the mean the sports page will finally get a real outdoor section. You know, moon charts and everything?

    54cermak said...

    Do you want to have it both ways? You don't want the Plain Dealer owning the ABJ because that would be too Cleveland-centric, but you think they should cover Akron bloggers?

    Hopefully the new owners of the ABJ can make a run at being an actually readable paper. For now, I'm sticking with my PD section. I like a Sunday edition that takes more than 10 minutes to read.

    scott bakalar said...

    This sounds like a good deal Pho - I have to defer to the GABers for things ABJ, so if you and Red like it - I'm happy for Akron and vicinity.

    Speaking of Red, did you know he reads moon charts? Gonna hafta blog on that some day...

    Kyle said...

    I envision the ABJ's editorials being dismissed as "Canadian" from here on out. I would have rather the paper been bought by someone in the United States.

    Pho said...

    Red:

    When I first moved here, they at least had reports on the local fishing holes. It's been a long time since I had time to fish, are they no longer run? If not, my guess is that it was a money decision. In a closely-held company, the ABJ will probably be able to aim for a lower profit margin and run more stuff like that, especially if they get a vocal demand for it. Like a local blogger leading a letter-writing campaign.

    54

    My point was that Cleveland always lets Cleveland drown out everything else. The blog coverage was just the latest manifestation of it.

    Kyle:

    People who want to dismiss editorials will always find a way to do it. If Advance had won the bidding, people would dismiss editorials as coming from Cleveland. Not much better. Plus Sound is an American company, so there is some buffer there. All in all, this could have been so much worse.

    redhorse said...

    A letter writing campaign for moon charts? call it done!