Guest speakers discuss sustainable publishing in the digital era

By Caitlin McWeeney


Rejecting one-size-fits-all publishing and how to succeed in the changing world of journalism is what guest speakers talked about at the Starting a New and Sustainable Publication panel Monday.


John Garrett, publisher and founder of Community Impact Newspaper stressed the panelists’ general idea that despite what you hear from the people around you, print is not dead.

“We all need the newspaper to succeed,” Garrett said.”Radio and TV rip off content from the newspaper.”

Pat Niekamp, owner and publisher of Texas CEO magazine spoke about an anecdote about a previous business publication that took its 60-member editorial board to dinner at the Four Seasons every night. Although prefacing their statements with saying that each of their publications were different, the panelists all said this was extreme extravagance for small publications. Melinda Garvey, owner and publisher of Austin Women’s Magazine said that there are many reasons for

“These are lean times,” Garvey said. “Ad dollars are tight and we are all trying in the same small pool for the same money.”

The wide variety of publications in the panel did not stop them from saying that even though the new media is heavily prevalent, when current events happen people still turn to the newspaper or other printed publication they trust the most.

“If the Statesman decided to go online only, what difference is there between the Statesman and Joe’s blog dot com?” Garret said. “Content relevancy makes print work.”

Content relevancy and knowing your target are some of the main points the panelists spoke about. Melinda Garvey said when she goes online she is so busy that a printed medium ad has to grab her attention to direct her to their specific website.

“Our magazine isn’t really targeted to college students,” she said. “We can’t cater to everyone.”

Niche publishing became the buzzword of the panel; Pat Niekamp explained that each of the panelists’ publications catered towards a specific generation, and that is just what Americans want.

“People are more in tuned to their likes,” Niekamp said. “Ads need to reach a specific audience.”

Melinda Garvey lived in Washington D.C for eight years and when she moved to Austin she noticed stories were missing in the Austin American Statesman about businesswomen.

“A friend of mine showed me Des Moines Women magazine and the hair on the back of my neck stood up,” Garvey said. “Oh my gosh, that’s it,” she said. “I could really make a publication that is inspirational to all women.”

He advised journalism students to expand their knowledge past journalism and explore other areas of education.

“Look at our backgrounds,” he said. “It’s a tough market. Differentiate yourself and don’t be afraid of business classes.”

Melinda Garvey offered this advice for journalism students who are just beginning their venture into the real world.
“Do whatever it takes— go above and beyond at work,” Garvey said. “First do your job well, then find out what more you can do.”

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