Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Heart of Steamboat Springs

I spent a few days last week with the folks at Steamboat Today. It's a local news operation that is worth the attention of others looking for ways to thrive in the digital era. It starts with a committed owner, the same family that owns the Lawrence Journal World in Kansas. Then there's a passion about the people who work there. They seem to love the place and the work. And most important, they're striving to deliver content and advertising on a number of platforms. They have a free tabloid newspaper six days a week. They publish a paid broadsheet newspaper on Sundays. (My guess is that they'll soon be a tabloid seven days a week. I would be if I were in their shoes.) They have multiple Web sites. They build Web sites for local businesses. They publish multiple glossy magazines. They have their own TV station, with a live, two-hour morning show on weekdays. They're launching an aggressive high school sports effort, online, on TV and in the paper. That's the key. They see everything as multi-platform. They're making their way as a mobile provider. That's not to say they've got everything figured out. But there's a deep commitment to serving the community and being the news and information source for Routt County. With all the talk of the problems facing newspapers, it's important to remember that these smaller news organizations - while facing steep revenue declines because of the recession - have much better long term prospects than larger operations. The reason for that, I believe, is that they're closer to their communities and can better serve readers with content they can't get elsewhere and advertisers with a connection to the community they can afford that produces results. I shot this video along the Yampa River in Steamboat because it was so beautiful and I wanted to see whether I could share the experience.

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