The Inland Story
In 1885, small newspaper publishers had a problem. Just as trusts were monopolizing steel, copper, ship building and other industries, newsprint trusts were hurting smaller newspapers.
The obvious solution was to form an alliance to bargain more effectively with newsprint manufacturers—a long-ago echo of the exemption from antitrust laws publishers are seeking today to wrest better financial and content arrangements with giant digital platforms such as Google and Facebook.
Three Illinois publishers—Robert Mann Woods of the Joliet Republic-Sun, E.A. Nattinger of the Ottawa Times and John W. Fornof of the Streator Free Press—took the initiative to get the alliance started.
So, on May 7, 1885 19 publishers met at the Tremont House in Chicago. They represented Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. They named their alliance the Inland Daily Press Association to reflect their Midwestern membership.
Fast forward, and Inland, which dropped the word “daily” from its name in the late 1980s, has grown to include 1,431 newspaper and industry and university associate members from all 50 states, Canada, and even including a member in Bermuda.
But while the size of Inland has changed over its 134 years, its fundamental mission has not. The through line of Inland history, whether in busts or booms, shows a commitment to practical instruction, mutual support through networking and frequent live and virtual events, research that provides insights—everything, in short, to help members and the industry at large prosper in business and journalism in whatever environment they find themselves.
Consider Inland’s research service. As long ago as 1911, Inland was asking members to report anonymously on what they were spending on newsgathering, production and other business costs, and what they were earning in circulation and advertising. Those surveys became more sophisticated over the decades, and were recognized as the gold standard in cost and revenue benchmarking.
Inland’s Newspaper Industry Compensation Survey is a useful way for newspapers, including non-members, to benchmark their wages and benefits across the industry, and even internally across departments. The Employee Engagement Study monitors workplace morale at individual newspapers or groups, with the intention of identifying possible festering issues beyond the obvious ones such as wages and benefits.
Inland began offering its more formal education workshops and programs in 1978 with “Editing Small Newspapers.” By its count, Inland has educated more than 16,000 newspaper employees through its seminars, workshops, and webinars.
The Inland Press Foundation, which supports these educational efforts, also strives to help develop future newspaper industry leaders. Its Foundation sponsors the Inland Fellowship Program, which pairs minority staffers at member newspapers with industry veterans in a three-year program that includes mentoring and participation in association conferences.
Inland growth exploded through the 1990s, even as storm clouds brought on by new technology began to dot the economic horizon. In 1987, the association had just over 360 members. On the eve of its 2005 Annual Meeting, an industry trade magazine reported it had hit a then-record 956 newspapers.
Through its history, Inland members have returned the association’s loyalty: Most of the 19 newspapers that came together in 1885—or their successor publications—remain active members today.
The SNPA Story
Since its founding in 1903, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association has been centered on personal connections that build relationships between its members. All SNPA communications, meetings and events focus intensely on inspiring members to excel.
SNPA’s mission is to be the most valuable personal network for publishers to find and exchange ideas, solve problems and develop their businesses. The emphasis is on problem-solving, aggregation of information, dissemination of best practices, affordable and effective technology-enhanced training and leadership in championing the newspaper industry.
When SNPA celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003, SNPA’s then-Chairman Walter E. Hussman Jr., wrote about the pride that Southern publishers could take in what they had accomplished over the last century.
He noted, “We provided the initial investment capital to encourage paper companies to build mills for making newsprint out of Southern pine trees.” He cited the South’s “disproportionate share of leadership” in industry associations, the courageous and quality journalism produced during tumultuous times, and the way SNPA often became the catalyst for change.
SNPA’s rich history also includes the role it played in forming the Southern Production Program Inc. (SPPI) in 1951. It was clear to all SNPA members that SPPI was primarily created to provide assistance to newspapers that were victims of strikes.
As the newspaper industry changed over the years, conferences like the popular Workshop for Smaller Newspapers and SNPA Foundation Traveling Campus seminars morphed into online training through SNPA’s Online Media Campus. More than 25,000 participants have taken part in continuing education through these webinars alone, which are offered free to all SNPA members.
Two annual SNPA awards are named for industry visionaries: the Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award and the Carmage Walls Commentary Prize. Other contests and surveys hosted by SNPA include the Salary Survey, Print Quality Contest and Photo/Video Contest.
Through executive development programs like NEX GEN, SNPA helps newspaper employees with executive potential develop leadership skills and grow professionally. NEX GEN protégés and their mentors craft their own agendas, schedule times to talk by phone at least once a month, set a time for a personal visit, and participate in video conference calls about every six weeks with key industry executives.
Video conference calls also are helping SNPA members connect through the Publisher-to-Publisher program launched last year. These P2P calls tackle a variety of topics that cross newspaper departments. More than a $1 million worth of revenue ideas were shared during 2018 P2P calls!
Membership among newspapers is at an all-time high. There were 34 individuals from 24 newspapers on that chilly, rainy morning of April 14, 1903, who met determined to form the regional press association that became SNPA. Today, SNPA includes 595 newspaper members, and an additional 71 R&D partners from companies that supply goods and services to the newspaper industry.
Networking among members has led to increased alliances with other newspaper associations. SNPA and Inland regularly partner on industry conferences, and the Key Executives Mega-Conference (hosted by SNPA, Inland, the Local Media Association and News Media Alliance) is now regarded as the “don’t miss” industry gathering of the year.
Over the next few months, the SNPA eBulletin will take a weekly look back in history. Journey with us as we celebrate our rich history! Your remembrances and favorite stories can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.