October 26, 2017

Family-owned firm, started 3 years ago, is already 6th largest owner of U.S. papers

From The Rural Blog

Adams Publishing Group, a newspaper firm that is barely three years old, has bought more than 100 small dailies, weeklies and shoppers in at least 15 separate transactions," Poynter Institute media-business analyst Rick Edmonds writes for the Iowa Newspaper Association's INA Bulletin. That makes it the nation's sixth-largest owner of newspapers, according to a March 2017 report by Visiting Professor Carol Wolf for the University of North Carolina's Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media. About half its papers are in Minnesota, where it is based.

Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media map; click on it to enlarge
"In contrast to other big consolidators, they often leave existing management in place, do not impose cookie-cutter content templates, and do not start by stripping down newsrooms of editors and reporters," Edmonds reports.

One example is its purchase of Jones Media, a Greeneville, Tenn.-based chain that was in its fourth generation of family ownership until patriarch John Jones died in 2016 and his descendants forced a sale over the objection of CEO Gregg Jones. He "chose to stay and has nothing but good things to say about the company," Edmonds reports, quoting him: "I'm working harder and enjoying myself more than I ever have. . . . These are the kind of people we want buying newspapers."

CEO Mark Adams rarely speaks
publicly about the firm he runs.
Edmonds couldn't elicit comment from the company, and called it "secretive." The firm is part of a diversified portfolio owned by "billionaire investor Stephen Adams and his family," who "have flown largely under the radar, unknown to those outside the industry," the UNC report says. "The company looks to buy non-metro publications where the newspapers or groups have revenue of about $10 million, said Larry Grimes, of W.B. Grimes & Co., a Gaithersburg, Md.-based mergers-and-acquisitions advisory firm specializing in media properties. Adams Publishing looks for large niche markets and buys within a geographic region. So far, the company has focused primarily on purchasing papers in the Midwest, but it owns publications as far east as the Jersey shore."

October 15, 2017

ISWNE, Huck Boyd Center issue call for applied research on community journalism

The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE) and the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media at Kansas State University are seeking proposals for papers that provide insight and guidance on general issues and/or everyday problems confronting community newspapers and their newsrooms.

This competition is an extension of the center’s former “Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium,” co-sponsored by the National Newspaper Association (NNA) and its foundation and presented for 20 years at NNA conventions. It is an effort to promote “conversations in community journalism” between academicians and journalists working for community newspapers.

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by faculty with expertise in community journalism and final selection of the papers to be written will be made by a panel of working and retired community journalists who will evaluate the proposals on the basis of their potential value to newsrooms. Completed papers will undergo a final peer review prior to publication in an issue of ISWNE’s quarterly journal Grassroots Editor.

One paper will be selected for presentation at the 2019 ISWNE conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The ISWNE Foundation will provide the author with complimentary registration for that conference, as well as a partial subsidy for travel. Proposals from graduate students are encouraged.

The deadline for proposals is Jan. 19, 2018. The full call for proposals and instructions for authors can be found here

September 20, 2017

Call for Panel Proposals, 2018 AEJMC Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Community Journalism interest group is now accepting panel proposals for the 2018 AEJMC conference in Washington, D.C.

There are three types of panel proposals you can submit: Professional Freedom & Responsibility (PF&R), Teaching and Research. All division members must submit their panel proposals by Oct. 1 to richjohnson@creighton.edu. Use the panel proposal template below a guide for writing your proposal.

Tips for preparing a panel proposal:

- Ideally, panels will be joint submissions with another AEJMC division or interest group. Therefore, you might try to develop a joint proposal with someone from another division/interest group. You are not required to develop a joint proposal - we can help you find someone from another division who might be willing to assist with your proposal.

- Joint panels should include members representing both divisions/interest groups submitting. For example, if COMJ is the lead sponsor on the panel, include three COMJ members and two members from the other division/interest group. Having a panel consisting entirely of COMJ members will not disqualify you from having your panel accepted, but we will give preference to joint submissions.

- Suggest important findings that attendees may take from your panel. For example, will the panel help attendees integrate aspects of community journalism into their classrooms? Will the panel help them understand research on theories of group identity? Try to explain the impact your panel will have on the division as well as AEJMC as a whole.

We will notify you in December if your panel proposal was accepted. Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to reach out at any time if you have questions about programming for next year's conference. 

2018 AEJMC Conference Panel Proposal

Panel Title:

Panel Type: (Research, Teaching, or PF&R)

Panel Sponsorship: Community Journalism Interest Group (also, please list possible co-sponsors)

Description of Panel: Generally 150-250 words. Remember to discuss potential impact of the panel on COMJ and AEJMC’s broader membership.

Possible Panelists:
List up to five, including affiliation and contact information. Please indicate whether you have already contacted prospective panelists about participating.


Your name, affiliation, daytime phone and email address

August 15, 2017

Arenberg, Lowrey, Speakman receive COMJIG top paper honors at AEJMC

Members of the Community Journalism Interest Group were involved in several outstanding panels at last week’s AEJMC conference. We were also treated to some fantastic research and had a fruitful business meeting.

Two of the highlights of our conference programming were the presentation of our Top Faculty and Top Student papers. Tom Arenberg and Wilson Lowrey of the University of Alabama received the Top Faculty Paper award for their study entitled “The Impact of Web Metrics on Community News Decisions: A Resource Dependence Perspective.” From the study abstract:

This comparative case study of two community news organizations takes a Resource Dependence approach to assess impact of audience metrics on news decisions, and on mechanisms underlying these decisions. Findings show that the organization that more strongly emphasizes metrics publishes fewer in-depth civic-issue stories, and metrics are more likely to influence newsworthiness. However, reporters’ expertise with strategies for increasing numbers may actually free reporters for enterprise work. Findings also suggest effects from community size.

(From left) Outgoing COMJIG Head Marcus Funk and COMJIG Research Chair Rich Johnson present the Top Faculty Paper Award to Wilson Lowrey and Tom Arenberg.

Burton Speakman of Ohio University received the Top Student Paper award for his study entitled “Technology and the Public: The Influence of Website Features on the Submission of UGC.” From the study abstract:

Web 2.0 creates a situation where the Internet increasingly focuses on submissions of content from non-professionals and interaction between the masses as a method of creating dedicated audiences. Community newspapers work within this rapidly changing media market and one must follow their audience online, despite any reservations about if the web provides a hospitable economic environment. This study examines how community newspaper websites choose to engage in gatekeeping as it relates to UGC. Despite changes in technology gatekeeping continues to occur on community newspaper websites. Furthermore, it provides clarity about what type of audience submitted content is more likely published at community media.

Burton Speakman (center) receives the Top Student Paper Award from COMJIG Research Chair Rich Johnson (left) and outgoing COMJIG Head Marcus Funk.

Abstracts for other research papers presented at COMJIG panels can be found here.

August 03, 2017

Check out COMJIG programming at AEJMC

The annual AEJMC conference is just days away, and the Community Journalism Interest Group has some outstanding programming this year. Go ahead and mark these sessions down on your calendar!

Wednesday, August 9

10-11:30 a.m.: Teaching the Business of Community Journalism in the 21st Century
Panelists: Jonathan Groves, Drury; Geoffrey Graybeal, Texas Tech; Joe Marren, SUNY Buffalo State; Eric Meyer, Illinois; Magda Konieczna, Temple; Gary Sosniecki, TownNews.com
Moderator: Christina Smith, Georgia College

3:15-4:45 p.m.: Helping Students Build Community Outside and Inside Campus Newsrooms
Panelists: Toni Albertson, Mt. San Antonio; Laura Castaneda, Southern California; Marcus Funk, Sam Houston State; Allison Hunter, Ohio; Bernardo Motta, South Florida-St. Petersburg
Moderator: Rich Johnson, Creighton

5-6:30 p.m.: Who Am I and Who Am I Talking To? Community, Identity and Culture in a Changing Media Environment
Panelists: Dianne Garyantes, Rowan; Eileen Gilligan, SUNY Oswego; Suman Mishra, Southern Illinois, Edwardsville; Hans Meyer, Ohio
Moderator: Michael Clay Carey, Samford

Thursday, August 10

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.: Challenges and Opportunities for Student Media at Religious-Affiliated Universities
Panelists: Michael Clay Carey, Samford; Rich Johnson, Creighton; Andrew Westmoreland, Samford; Joel Campbell, Brigham Young
Moderator: Bernie Ankney, Samford

Friday, August 11

8:15-9:45 a.m.: Defining Community and Participatory Journalism in the Social Media Era
Panelists: Leslie-Jean Thornton, Arizona State; Avery Holton, Utah; Mark Poepsel, Southern Illinois; Bill Reader, Ohio
Moderator: Marcus Funk, Sam Houston State

5:15-6:45 p.m.: Top Paper Session: Digital Technology in Community Newsrooms
Moderating/Presiding: Rich Johnson, Creighton 

“(Re)Crafting Neighborhood News: The Rise of Journalism Hackathons”
Jan Lauren Boyles, Iowa State
“An Optimistic Vision for the Future of Community Newspapers: Where do Digital Technologies Fit in?”
Francis Dallsay, Guam; Anup Kumar and Leo Jeffres, Cleveland State 
“Technology and the Public: The Influence of Website Features on the Submission of UGC”
Burton Speakman, Ohio
“The Impact of Web Metrics on Community News Decisions: A Resource Dependence Perspective”
Tom Arenberg and Wilson Lowrey, Alabama

Discussant: Eileen Gilligan, SUNY Oswego

7-8:30: COMJIG Business Meeting (social to follow)