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Not easy running paper 143 years

By Staff | May 27, 2012

Running a newspaper isn’t easy.

Not that I’m whining. Because running a newspaper can also be fun.

But, it is not easy.

First, there are all the events to cover. Sports, school, meetings, parades and award ceremonies. The list is almost endless.

You should see our calendar here at the Register. It is full most days and evenings.

Second, there is that other side of running a newspaper. Selling ads and subscriptions to make sure the business makes a buck or two and stays in business so that we can continue to go to meetings and events. And, keep on publishing.

On the editorial side, we receive praise and criticism almost every week for what we have or don’t have for photos and news in the paper.

A letter to the editor in last week’s paper took us to task for one recent front page story selection.

That’s fine. Everyone can question why we have some things in the paper and don’t have others.

After all, we question it ourselves every week.

The letter writer guessed that the staff meets to discuss what is news and what isn’t.

He was right. We meet not just once but many times each week to discuss what we need to cover that week and how we are going to do it.

Some stories we agonize over. We don’t take pleasure in other’s misfortunes, but we do feel a responsibility to report the news of the community, good and bad.

And, deciding which items are news and which are not is a constant discussion.

The answer to the writer’s other question is, heck yes, if the mayor, the judge, the editor or a reporter has something happen to them, we would cover it. And, we have done so in the past.

Part two of this column concerns the other department of a newspaper the business side.

Those of us in editorial always feel that the great photos and stories we create each week are enough to warrant people buying the paper and putting ads into it.

That is true.

But, keeping the ad sales up, and the circulation figures high takes a lot of work as well.

Sometimes we run special promotions to get those numbers to stay up.

That is not something new newspapers have been struggling with that issue for years.

Last week Bev Krosch brought in a souvenir history book of early residents in Faribault County.

It is a fascinating piece of history and a very interesting read.

But, even more interesting to me is the fact that this book was given away free, as a subscription promotion for the Faribault County Register.

The publisher/editor at the time, J.M. Palmer, writes in the forward that the book is “a present to all old or new subscribers who pay in full one year in advance to the Register.”

Quite a gift.

But, of course at the time, Palmer was competing with the Blue Earth Post and probably was locked in a real battle for subscribers constantly.

Unfortunately there is no date on the souvenir book.

Palmer was publisher/editor of the Register from 1900 to 1937. So, it was some time in that time period that he created the history book. More than likely he gave it away as a subscription premium until all copies were gone.

Or, until he sold the paper.

It was a banker named F. H. Davis who purchased the Post in 1931 and sold it to father-son B.A. Johnson and M.A. Johnson.

Then in 1937 banker Davis bought the Register from Palmer and sold that also to the Johnsons.

The sales included the newspaper building. If you look at where Blue Earth Graphics is now located, it says “Post – Johnson-Davis” on the building.

The Johnson family retained ownership for many years, eventually selling the papers to Martin McGowan in 1971.

I am sure that all those many editors over the years also spent much time worried about what news to put into the newspaper each week and how to sell more ads and subscriptions.

The Faribault County Register traces its history back 143 years. The Blue Earth City Post was established on May 29, 1869.

So this week we say “Happy Birthday to us.”

And, we promise to bring you all the news each week for the next 143 years.