Focus on members

A few minutes with…David Holgate

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So what is it you do, David Holgate?

I’m the Indiana and Michigan group president for Paxton Media Group, and publisher of The Herald-Palladium in St. Joseph, Michigan. 

And how did you get into the newspaper industry?

It started 30 years ago while in college (at Southern Oregon University). I started as a being a salesperson, and as I began to show some potential I was promoted up the line to ad director and then publisher and group publisher.

Paxton has been an active acquisitor of newspapers in the last few years. What does Paxton look for in a newspaper property?

We are in kind of what we would call an intelligent acquisition mode. Obviously, we look for newspapers that fit inside our footprint. We have holdings in the Midwest and South, and Kentucky, where we’re based. We also look for properties that fit inside our mission, which is to create local content, something that is needed by the community.

(We acquire) smaller daily newspapers with little to no competition in their markets. We’re certainly not looking to get into larger or regional newspapers.

What do you see as Paxton’s advantage in its markets?

Well, we’re privately held so the pressures that we have are the pressures that we apply to ourselves. We also go in and consolidate backshop operations. We allow (our papers) to lock into delivering value for readers and advertisers. With the exception of some of our big box advertisers, which are in all are markets, our advertisers are small independently owned businesses. Businesses someone opened because they are really good at whatever it might be. We’re a small business, too, so we can kind of talk to them on their level.

Where does digital fit into the model for Paxton papers.

The transition to digital? That is not as important for us as it is for other newspapers. Again, we tend to be in smaller markets, often rural, markets, and they are still relying on that printed product. We still see the best margins—and deliverables—from that printed product.

How do you see the future of newspapers?

I see that there is actually a solid future. There’s no question we have had challenges, and we’re gong to have challenges going forward. However, people are still looking to us for local content, so I think it’s a bright future.

Earlier this year, Paxton Media Group brought the newspapers that hadn’t been members into Inland. What value does the company see in Inland membership?

My group, of course, has been in Inland for many years. (Paxton had split newspapers between industry associations but) over the last couple of years, we’ve been thinking a little differently about that, especially with me sitting on the Inland Press Foundation board. Initially, for the newest members they are just getting acquainted with the constant webinars Inland offers.

The Mega-Conference I attended was very worthwhile, and I’m sure the Annual Meeting back in Chicago will be worthwhile. Inland does a lot of things, we just need to take advantage of it.