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Annual ArkLaMiss conference a great success

Guest Column:

The super sales person who wasn’t so super, after all By John Foust

Ar k ansas


Publisher Weekly


Vol. 14 | No. 47 | Thursday, November 21, 2019

Serving Press and State Since 1873

Silliman getting out of the office for good on December 31 Sue Silliman leaves her office for good on Dec. 31, not that the WEHCO Media, Inc., veteran was in the office much for the last 36 years anyway. Instead, Silliman tried to spend her time as general manager of the Camden News and Magnolia NewsBanner out in the community, whether trying to generate revenue for the company or participating in civic groups or volunteer activities. The last few months, Silliman and her employees in Camden and Magnolia have been visiting subscribers at home or at local civic clubs touting the benefits of the newspapers’ transition to primarily digital publication. For years before that, Silliman would take time to drop in on advertisers to emphasis the importance of their business relationships with her newspapers. “I hated sitting in the office and I loved getting out,” Silliman said. “I’ve even told my staff, if you ever need help selling,

give me a call. That’s probably what I’ve enjoyed most, just getting out and visiting and helping businesses with their business.” Some of Silliman’s hands-on, active role at the newspapers was forged out of necessity, she said. At smaller newspapers, she said managers may also have to pitch in when it comes to delivering newspapers, handling phone calls or even tackling minor plumbing issues. It’s also part of her management style, since she maintains that no one on her staff would ever be asked to do something that she wouldn’t do herself. Sometimes as general manager, Silliman would lend her help to the newspapers’ advertising and composition teams. Her first newspaper job, at the El Dorado News-Times, was as art director. “I always tell composing, ‘Don’t make me get my border tape out! I can still do those

Silliman with APA Advertising Contest top award.

ads,’” she laughed. “I still like to go out and visit with advertisers, and even now if someone will come in and has an idea, I will sketch it out.”

Arkansas journalist sentenced to jail time for recording in court Benton County Circuit Court Judge Brad Karren ordered a television reporter to spend three days in jail this week for using the audio recorder on her phone to record a portion of a hearing in a murder case. Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye was sentenced Tuesday, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The newspaper reported that Omeronye was cited for contempt of court Oct. 7. Karren had prohibited any recording in the courtroom and signs were posted stating audio recording is not allowed. Omeroyne, a reporter for Nexstar-owned KNWA and KFTA, told the judge she’d only made

recordings for note-taking purposes. Nevertheless, Karren imposed a 10-day jail sentence with seven days suspended, and six months probation. Omeroyne was ordered to pay $250 in court costs.

APA Executive Director Ashley Wimberley issued this statement regarding the sentence:

The Arkansas Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and Arkansas Press Women are among the media organizations that condemned the harsh sentence.

“The Bill of Rights ensures both freedom of the press and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. This harsh sentence is an affront to both. While Ms. Omeronye acknowledges unintentionally violating the judge’s order, she was simply trying to do her job as a journalist.

Omeryone had apologized to the judge, and she explained that she was allowed to use recording devices at her previous newsroom stops in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Phoenix.

“Obviously, reporters respect the right of judges to control their own courtrooms, but this was an overreaching sanction that could have a chilling effect on public access to government proceedings.”

Silliman getting out of the office for good on December 31 Continued from Page 1

Silliman, an Illinois native, spent four years as a graphic artist for a chain of department stores before she entered the newspaper industry. After four years at El Dorado, she moved to the Camden News as ad manager. In 2005, she was promoted to general manager of the Camden newspaper. She took on additional duties as Magnolia’s general manager four years ago. She said she will be able to spend more time with her 7-year-old twin grandsons in retirement. They live in Northwest Arkansas. She and her husband, James Lee Silliman, plan to stay in Camden.

Arkansas, where she serves on a number of boards and advisory committees. Her successor at the newspaper is Robyn Yarbro, who has worked for Silliman for more than two decades. She said Yarbro was a great fit for the role. “Everybody knows that I’m very committed and involved in the communities, and I think people knew that I was fair with them,” Silliman said. “I’ll continue to inform (the newspapers) about things I know that are going on … it’s important that these papers continue to be strong in their communities, and they are being left in good hands.” In their announcement of her retirement, both WEHCO Chairman Walter E. Hussman Jr. and WEHCO Newspaper Division President Mark Lane referred to Silliman as an “outstanding” leader and manager at the two newspapers. Silliman deflected the praise to her employees. “I’ve got great people who work for me who are dedicated and hardworking,” she said. “You can’t be successful without good people around you.”

James Lee and Sue with their twin grandsons

Silliman, a winner of a Camden civic service award, remains active in south

believes more and more readers are requiring access to news more quickly, which is why she’s proud that WEHCO has become a pacesetter in the digital movement.

She said she believes community newspapers like the News and BannerNews serve a vital role for the citizens they serve, but she recognizes the necessity of a transition to digital news first. Silliman

James Lee and Sue with Governor Asa Hutchinson

“I feel strongly that community newspapers are important. They’re still a watchdog for the community,” Silliman said. “The news just has to be fresh, and that’s why it’s so good with digital. There are so many ways we can engage the reader.” Silliman is also a member of the Arkansas Press Association board of directors, a position she will be required to resign once she leaves the industry. She said she’s “made wonderful friends throughout the years” through the APA.

Annual ArkLaMiss circulation conference a great success The annual ArkLaMiss Circulation, Marketing and Audience Development Conference was held earlier this month in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The joint meeting of newspaper professionals from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi again focused on how newspapers can grow both readership and revenue, with insightful commentary from Keynote Speaker Gwen Vargo of the American Press Institute and an always-beneficial “Hot Ideas” exchange between participants. As in previous years, the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation offered four $200 scholarships to APA members attending the conference. One of the scholarship requirements was to submit a written evaluation of the event. Here’s the evaluation from Zach Killian of the South Arkansas Sun in Hampton: Arkansas Publisher Weekly

“This was my second time attending the ArkLaMiss Conference held in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I enjoyed the conference last year so I was excited to be able to attend again this year. After my three-hour drive, I looked forward to the lunch at the Heritage Buffet. It didn’t disappoint. The speaker this year was Gwen Vargo, Director of Reader Revenue at the American Press Institute. She talked about how to grow our readers and get long term subscribers. Vargo discussed several strategies to get readers to subscribe. She finished her session earlier than other sessions I’ve been to. I liked how she was straight to the point in her presentation. Paul Keane, publisher of the Wayne County News, did an impromptu session 2

about his newspaper. He spoke about the different things they do for the newspaper. They have been doing some video production. On their website, they have football highlights and recaps. This interested me because I like working with video production as well. It gave me ideas to possibly do in the future. I enjoy the “Hot Ideas Exchange” at each conference. It’s helpful to get ideas from other newspapers. The panel discussed circulation and audience growth. It was helpful hearing from different perspectives. I enjoyed the conference and was glad I attended. I hope to attend next year and bring back more ideas. November 21, 2019

—30— Jack Moseley

Paxton Media Group names new CEO Paxton Media Group owns 10 newspapers in Arkansas: The Jonesboro Sun, Russellville Courier, Daily Citizen in Searcy, Batesville Guard, Paragould Daily Press, The Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, Newport Independent, Van Buren County Democrat, Heber Springs Sun-Times and The Times Dispatch in Walnut Ridge.

Jack Moseley, former editor of the Times Record in Fort Smith and an award-winning reporter and columnist, died on Nov. 15. He was 82.

The company has a total of 71 newspapers in 10 states as well as a television station.

A Texas native, Army veteran, and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he is believed to have been the last reporter to have direct contact with President John F. Kennedy the day he was assassinated in Dallas. Moseley, who worked for the Fort Worth Press at the time, spent 15 years in Fort Worth, rising through the ranks to the position of managing editor. He became managing editor in Fort Smith in 1975 and served in that position for 26 years.

Jamie Paxton has been named president and CEO of Paxton Media Group, marking the fifth generation of the Paxton family to lead the organization. He replaces David Paxton, who will remain chairman of the board, according to an announcement issued by the company.

As a reporter in Fort Worth, Moseley covered the burial of Lee Harvey Oswald and was recruited with other newsmen to serve as a pallbearer since none had shown for the graveside service. According to published reports, Moseley only hung on to the casket for a few steps before letting go because “he couldn’t stand carrying Oswald, even if it was to his grave.”

The merger of two newspaper industry titans became official on Tuesday, Nov. 19, after regulatory and shareholder approval of the $1.1 billion merger of Gannett with New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media. The new company takes the name of Gannett Co.

Moseley’s accolades as an editor and reporter included two gold medals for the advancement of human rights from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, a White House citation for reporting on poverty, and awards from Dartmouth University, the American Health Care Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Academy of Family Physicians, UPI and AP. He was the author of two nonfiction books and contributor to high school and college journalism textbooks. Moseley served on the boards of Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce and the Bost Foundation. He is survived by two daughters. A memorial service will be Friday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m. at Ocker-Putman Funeral Home in Fort Smith. Burial will be private at the US National Cemetery in Fort Smith. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Kitties and Kanines, 4900 Rogers Ave. , Suite 100A, Fort Smith AR 72903. Arkansas Publisher Weekly

Jamie Paxton joined the company in 2007 as controller of the Paducah Sun in Kentucky. Paxton is headquartered in Paducah. He later became the controller for the company. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Notre Dame.

Gannett, GateHouse merger takes effect

The newly merged company, now the largest newspaper chain in America, owns more than 260 daily newspapers and hundreds more weeklies. Gannett newspapers in Arkansas are the Times Record in Fort Smith, Pine Bluff Commercial, Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Press Argus-Courier in Van Buren, Paris Express, Booneville Democrat, Charleston Express and White Hall Journal. The company announced that Mike Reed, former CEO of New Media, will be the CEO of the new company. Paul Bascobert

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will be CEO of subsidiary Gannett Media Corp. He was previously Gannett’s CEO. According to the Associated Press, the new company’s leaders have stated there will be layoffs as they make good on a commitment to cut $300 million in annual costs. Bascobert told AP the company will look to cuts in its financial, printing and advertising divisions and “will further centralize editing and newspaper and web design functions.” The combined companies estimated 25,000 employees.



Reed was quoted by AP as saying: “We believe we have a strategy that will result in … not just preserving local journalism, but letting local journalism thrive. National journalism as well. And fortunately, we’re going to be able to impact at least 260 communities.”

industry quote of the week

“Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.’” -Jef Mallett November 21, 2019

mark your calendar APA will be closed on Thursday , Nov. 28 & Friday, Nov. 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Chicot County newspapers change structure; staff working remotely The Chicot County Spectator in Lake Village and Eudora Enterprise employees have begun working remotely and the newspapers’ offices in Lake Village have been closed. The newspapers will continue to publish their weekly editions and subscribers will still receive the newspaper in the mail each week, the publications stressed. In addition, the website chicotnewspapers.com will provide updated and timely news and information. The office at 105 N. Court in Lake Village is no longer being used effective this week. “With most of our work already being done via mobile and email, Kim Jenkins and Ken Lambert will now have more time to work directly with the community either

by telephone or engaging readers and clients in person,” said Publisher Barney White in the newspapers’ announcement. “We know this might cause a temporary inconvenience to some of our readers and customers, but we hope to be even more accessible to our neighbors and friends that have patronized us their entire lives.” The newspapers will maintain a drop box at Sunflower Lake Village for subscribers and others to leave stories, photos, subscription renewals or suggestions. The phone numbers and email addresses remain the same: (870) 265-2071 and (870) 265-2080, and news@chicotnewspapers. com and ads@chicotnewspapers.com. The new mailing address for the newspapers is PO Box 744, Lake Village AR 71653.

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November 21, 2019

Guest Column: The super sales person who wasn’t so super, after all By John Foust Jim was a super sales person. He was so good that he broke all kinds of records at the publishing company where he worked. He consistently brought in more new business than anyone else on the advertising staff. And his numbers always ranked at the top of the weekly and monthly sales reports. Karen, Jim’s former manager, told me that he was the most disciplined team member they had ever had. “Jim was sell-sell-sell all the time. He came to the office every morning at seven o’clock, so he could leave voicemail messages on his prospects’ office phones. Then throughout the day, he followed a routine of prospecting and writing proposed media schedules. Everything he did was geared toward closing the deal, so he could move on to the next prospect. If he lost a sale, it didn’t slow him down at all. He just brushed it off and kept going. “Jim generated a lot of revenue, but the picture wasn’t as rosy as it sounds,” Karen explained. “After he made a sale, he left everything else in the creative department’s hands. He was the one who had direct contact with his accounts, but he never developed any kind of strategic

Arkansas Publisher Weekly

guidelines to follow. The creatives were on their own, because there was nothing specific to help them differentiate Advertiser A from Advertiser B. As a result, a lot of those ads didn’t work – and advertisers didn’t renew their contracts. That put Jim in a position where he had to prospect and sell even harder to make up the lost revenue. It was constant churn.” After a year or so, Jim left for a job in another industry and Karen started insisting on three steps for her team to incorporate in the sales process. 1. Set realistic expectations. “It all starts here,” she said. “If people think that putting just any kind of ad in our paper – or on our web site – will automatically bring new customers, they are wrong. It’s the sales person’s job to establish the right expectations. An ad with a photo, a slogan and a logo will take many repetitions to create brand awareness. But an ad which promotes a timely offer or seasonal sale will be more likely to create immediate results.” 2. Get the right kind of information. “Most advertisers know enough to help us put together workable ad campaigns,”


she said. “We just need to ask the right questions and make the effort to understand their businesses.” The questions should be simple and openended. What kind of results did they get from previous campaigns? What worked? What didn’t work? How are they different from their competitors? How can people benefit from using their products and services? That’s the kind of information that helps a creative department produce strong ads. 3. Monitor results. “It’s common sense to follow up frequently to see how the ads are working,” Karen said. “If something needs to change, it’s best to find out before contract renewal time.” (c) Copyright 2019 by John Foust. All rights reserved. John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: john@johnfoust.com

November 21, 2019

Profile for Arkansas Press Association

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: November 21, 2019  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...

Arkansas Publisher Weekly: November 21, 2019  

The Arkansas Publisher Weekly is the only direct source for late-breaking news regarding Arkansas' newspapers and related industries. Publis...

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