This issue marks the Trenton Trib’s one-year anniversary. More importantly, September also marks the start of our second year.
Late last month we had a very small company luncheon to briefly celebrate the modest milestone (which was totally appropriate, considering that we are, indeed, a very small company), and then it was back to the business of trying to survive our second year.
And if you believe all the statistics, that might not be an easy task. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, approximately 90 percent of all small enterprises fail within the first two years of operation.
That probably sounds like an ominous way to start “Year Two,” eh?
But we’re not looking at it that way. It’s just a cold dose of reality to help us remain mindful of the fact that much hard work lies ahead. We’re actually very excited by the reception we’ve received from the community during Year One, and are looking to try to build on that in the coming 12 months.
The many kind and supportive notes and phone calls we have received from residents and local business owners over the course of the year have definitely helped convince us that our efforts are making a positive difference in the community, and have greatly encouraged us to stay the course. So, thank you very much for that.
Considering the fact that Trenton hadn’t had a true hometown newspaper for 25 years, many people would have looked at it as an impossible task to start one from scratch — and maybe not even try. I was one of those people until convinced otherwise by my co-publisher, Kathy Kane, who actually got the ball rolling a year earlier with the Trib’s predecessor, The Trenton Tribute.
The process of trying to get a new publication to take root and grow has been challenging — not just because of the business climate but due to the huge transition going on in the media business in general. Some believe the entire world of print publications is going away. That may eventually be the case, but we started this venture because many people in the community told us they still missed the Trenton Times and wished the city still had its own newspaper.
The ability to make money is undoubtedly an important reason for choosing what type of business to start, but it should never be the lone reason. In my mind there has to be an underlying purpose to your business pursuit — beyond just making money — or your desire to continue doing it might fade long before it becomes financially viable.
In our case, the underlying purpose was that we saw a local need that wasn’t being filled. Was there an opportunity to create a viable business to satisfy that need? Well, just like with anything else, there were no guarantees — but we felt it was definitely worth finding out.
Over the last 40 years or so a lot of small home town newspapers have disappeared. It’s easy to draw the conclusion that it was a dying business. But, the way I recall it, many of the smallest publications disappeared because they were absorbed by larger newspapers — as was the case with the Times — or they were set in their ways and couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to new production technologies. But the Times, as I remember, was still a successful enterprise at the time it was sold and then eventually absorbed into its new parent company.
In more recent times, a steady wave of consolidation and reduced publishing dates among the larger publications has made it increasingly difficult for them to adequately service the need for the hometown news and information.
What we may be seeing now, though, is an industry coming full circle. New players are emerging to help fill the void for local news and information. While the latest wave of Web media gurus tend to forecast the full demise of print, we don’t see a need to throw in the towel any time soon. The heyday of print is most certainly long gone, but it seems entirely plausible that it will remain a significant role player for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to small community newspapers. The financial meltdown that hit nearly three years ago did prompt some advertisers to abruptly abandon print in favor of cheaper or even free advertising online and through social media. Over the course of the last year, though, we’ve seen some of them gradually drift back and add print ads to their advertising portfolios, apparently recognizing that print is still a relevant and effective outlet for reaching customers.
Web-only publications such as Patch.com are important part of the new equation for local news and information, but we see what they do as being complementary to what we do. From what I’ve gathered they have no interest in being in the print business and, as of yet at least, we are not able to duplicate what they’ve been able to accomplish with a very sophisticated Website that tries to maintain a 24/7 approach to covering local news.
In the end, Trenton residents are the biggest winners by having access to more news and information about their community. So, thank you again for your interest and support, and please stick around for Year Two. We truly hope we’re just getting started.
Joe Hoshaw Jr. is editor and co-publisher of the Trenton Trib. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.