When I worked at The Union, I asked the Publisher if staffers could write “goodbye” columns when they left because some of them had asked. No, he said. People come and go, but this newspaper has been here for 148 years.
But Jeff A. broke his own rule to write a “goodbye” column about himself, putting his own spin on his corporate transfer to Roseburg, Oregon. He takes credit for introducing an Amy Goodman column; in fact, it was a team effort. He often called The Union “my newspaper” inside the building; now it’s “our” newspaper in his swan song to readers. It’s a bit nauseating.
In truth, Swift is providing a longtime employee with a “soft landing” after he continued to antagonize half the community even long after the NH2020 debacle. Remember this editor/publisher’s lawsuit against a grieving father, stemming from an insensitive column, that could have been handled with a simple apology? Instead, he painted himself as a hero. This would have been a good opportunity to say “I’m sorry.”
MISSED THE LONG TAIL
From a business standpoint, Jeff A. dropped the ball business-wise. He missed out on (in fact, he ridiculed) what is called the “long tail” of business — one could have generated some incremental revenue to the newspaper after the real estate and construction market collapsed. And better yet, this could have helped shape a community vision.
Instead, he continued to focus on the “head” — mining and construction, rooted in “old boy” politics — rather than the “tail” — “narrowly targeted” goods and services that can be as economically attractive. You know, the intriguing “new” niches.
In our case, the “tail” could be things like geotourism, biomass, sustainable agriculture, wine grape production, arts/culture and so on. What if the Publisher led the charge for a new performing arts center, for example, instead of reopening the Idaho-Maryland gold mine? In short, promote a more diversified economy.
“The theory of the long tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of ‘hits’ (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail,” writes former Wired editor Chris Anderson, who coined the term.
In fact, The Union’s editor/publisher belittled all this, reducing it to personal stereotypes. Just the other day KNCO reported: “Ackerman says some new arrivals to Nevada County clear-cut their one-acre lot and then slap a ‘Save the Planet’ sign on their Volvo.”
Well not exactly. It’s more complicated than that.
The Union will be a better paper, with a more enlightened local management — well sort of new. The new publisher, at least, will be one who embraces a more diversified economy, “purple” politics, and he will be open to new ideas. He will be more of an innovator than past publishers.
Though it will be another tug-of-war between “old” and “new,” I predict he will succeed, making The Union a paper for the whole community, not just the half whom he agreed with.
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