We're a group of Iowans looking at investing in a small-market newspaper or two. We're not Gannett or CHNI. We're from Iowa, and we're looking in Iowa. That's it. We know the Hawkeye State and we're not moving anywhere. For now, we're shopping around and kicking some tires to see if anything is a good fit. We bring expertise in digital media to the table, and we are open to opportunities ranging from partnerships and minority ownership stakes to full buyouts. Right now, we're open-minded.
Here's what we think about news
Based upon decades of our own experience in news and media, we think the role of a local media outlet can be summed up like this:
Have unique content
That word -- "unique" -- defines the presence of a new kind of monopoly. Monopoly power comes from doing something that others can't or won't do. Pepsi can't sell Coke. The delivery of unique content is and ought to be the first priority of a news institution if it intends to remain afloat. (You should also pick our brains sometime on what we think distinguishes "news", "information", and "events" from one another. But that's a much longer story.)
Deliver the appropriate news via the appropriate medium
Not all news belongs in print. Not all news requires video. Not all news can be heard. Not all news is best explained in multimedia format. Not all news is instantaneous. Not all news can wait for tomorrow. But until news organizations of every stripe -- television, radio, newspaper, and Internet -- realize how to deliver every story via the medium most appropriate to that story, the ones that realize it and act first will have a distinct advantage.
Understand the role of an archival institution
There's a reason people think of the Sunday newspaper as something different from the weekday paper. It serves as an anchor; you may miss the daily stories, but if you read the Sunday edition, you'll know the important things. Other media have always been more in-tune with the transitory nature of fast news than newspapers are; television and radio have always delivered more reports, more often. But neither the broadcast media nor online media have ever fully realized the importance of institutional archiving. Newspapers have filled that role in the past. The news institution that understands how to fulfill this role while serving the other two above will have a chance to survive.
And we know digital
We also happen to know quite a lot about digital publishing -- websites, multimedia, and social media included. (This website, for instance, was coded entirely in-house. It took about an hour and a can of Cherry Coke, and it should look nice whether you're on a PC or a smartphone because we know what we're doing.) Digital publication is not a substitute for sustaining a good institution (the Huffington Post will never have the heritage of the Chicago Tribune), but in the 21st Century, digital is usually a necessary enhancement to good work that's already underway.
So...that's our story
If you read this and you think that we should talk about what you're doing or a property you're thinking about selling, the very best way to reach us is by email: email@example.com. Or you can reach our PO Box in West Des Moines at the address below. We don't bite. We think small is beautiful. And we respect the fact that you probably want us to treat your situation with confidentiality. We're interested in talking with you if you want to do things the Iowa way.