Rob Update 2/21

Hi folks,

Yep, that’s me last week struggling up the Grand Canyon. After nearly tipping over while hiking there in February, I’m not sure how people survive the place in the heat of July or August. Nonetheless, it’s a gorgeous piece of public lands that every American should visit. If anyone is looking for some travel tips about the park, I learned a lot about the area and would be happy to answer any questions. 

Now, what’s cooking at Outdoor News?

(Deadline for March newsletter items is Wednesday, March 10.)

USPS backlogs

Complaints about late mail delivery finally calmed down after January. It appears that backlogs in the U.S. Postal System have eased through the system. Thank you to the admin staff, which dealt with complaints calmly and with remarkable aplomb during December and January. Sara and I had a meeting with a postal service rep two weeks ago who suggested that a new system should prevent this from happening in 2021.

Production plan

As most of you may know by now, Cindy Rosin will be retiring in late May after an incredible career in the newspaper business – including 18 years with Outdoor News. She’s been the ad production manager for exactly 10 years, and her institutional knowledge of building quality publications is tops in the Twin Cities. Suffice to say, we’re happy for Cindy that she’s tackling retirement, but we’ll miss her tremendously at Outdoor News.

Given the financial challenges all media businesses are facing right now and the smaller page-counts in Outdoor News, this gives us an opportunity to find some efficiencies within editorial and production. The transition plan going forward after Cindy’s retirement to keep papers going out the door breaks down as follows:

Production Transition Plan

  • Dana Tuss will move into Cindy Rosin’s role full-time when she leaves in May.

To free up time in this department since we’re moving from three full-time positions to two, the following will occur:

  • Two editors will take over layouts on their editions – Mike Moore with Ohio Outdoor News and Ralph Loos with Illinois. An earlier ad deadline and layout on these editions may be necessary to ensure that they head to press on time.

Aaron Geddis has provided InDesign tutorials to help editors make this transition. Mike and Ralph already have begun tuning up their layout skills and will be creating pages immediately to be prepared for this full-time change in May.

  • Gear and Gadgets moves to Evy Gebhardt, who will have the feature ready to plug and chug into newspapers each week.
  • The editorial side of production will handle Pa. Outdoor News and Wisconsin Outdoor News. Ron Nelson will tackle Wisconsin, and Dani Melin Pa.ODN.
  • Cross-training. The editorial side of production will provide backup on layouts and PDFing when vacations on the ad production require assistance. To keep layout and PDF workflow fresh, the editorial department permanently will handle one small edition per cycle (every two weeks), presumably Illinois.
  • Production staffers will keep their Master Editorial Calendar assignments. The Bast-Durbin team is interested in providing help on Master Edit Calendar, so Rob may assign them one per month. Still negotiating.
  • Aaron Geddis will be primary backup for assisting with pages or handling an entire edition for editorial production during vacations.
  • The entire production department may require additional assistance on reader shot pages. Jason is available to absorb some reader shot page production.
  • Brian Peterson has taken over Wisconsin Outdoor News proofing duties since Mike Moore is now focused on expanded duties with Ohio.

This is a work in progress, and thank you to everyone for rolling through this transition.

Rental space situation

We continue to discuss options with Colliers, the management company for the building we’re currently in. Possibilities include a smaller open space at the back of the building, reverting to our original space at our current address, or maintaining our existing space as a reduced rate. We made a pitch to Colliers last week and will let everyone know what’s happening as quickly as it occurs. The overarching idea is to save some money on rent given that so many staffers now are working from home.

Calendars and Prints

Some good news on our popular Outdoor News calendars. Sales are up 25.2% over last year and they’ve been 33% more profitable.

Print of the Year (Mike Sieve) also saw a nice jump, up 16.7% in 2020 and coming in at our 3rd most profitable year for all prints sold.

Special kudos to Teresa for all the work she puts into the Calendar each year. This project would not get done without her! Editors play a key role in accumulating season dates, and Aaron Geddis provides lots of technical formatting help to Teresa. Steph, Stacy, the editors, and Aaron Wolf all assist with proofing.

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