The Nation takes notice of newspaper ownership, highlights North Carolina success stories

David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot, talks about transforming their business with an in-house digital ad agency in a video on the CISLM website.

The Nation magazine recently published an article by Julie Reynolds featuring Penelope Muse Abernathy’s research into newspaper ownership. The article also features North Carolina newspaper The Pilot — which just won best community newspaper for the third year in a row from the National Newspaper Association. The Pilot is shown as a success story in building a sustainable business strategy that also functions to feed democracy at the local level.

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Abernathy cites another success story, The Pilot in Southern Pines, North Carolina, whose circulation of 14,000 is roughly equal to the town’s entire population. With a newsroom of 12, The Pilot publishes twice weekly in print and frequently online. It provides the staples of local news—high-school sports scores, town-council election results—but it also publishes five arts-and-culture magazines, a statewide business journal, and a few telephone directories. And it operates a cozy storefront called the Country Bookshop. “We felt this community would be less without a local bookstore,” says Pilot editor John Nagy. “So we went out and bought it. And it’s finally making a profit.

“What all that’s done is diversify our revenues, diversify our outlook, and diversify our business skills,” Nagy adds. “Part of the print industry’s problem today is, they don’t believe in themselves. Publishers like GateHouse, Gannett, McClatchy, Berkshire Hathaway, they’re managing margins. They’re not looking for real, aggressive growth strategies that have a little risk attached.”

This story appears as the lead feature in the October 16, 2017 edition of The Nation magazine.

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